Parts of the Western Bay of Plenty were facing a meteorological drought, according to Niwa's March Climate Summary.

The New Zealand Drought Index by Niwa and the Ministry for Primary Industries declared parts of the Western Bay of Plenty in meteorological drought conditions last week, with the rest of the region just below the margin in extremely dry conditions.

Niwa meteorologist Nava Fedaeff said a meteorological drought was declared because rainfall was significantly low and soils were extremely dry.

The Western Bay was the only area in the country being highlighted as facing drought conditions, she said.


Luckily, Fedaeff said it was not expected to stick around for long as the area approached the wetter months and with showers forecast in the short term, soils would begin to moisten.

She said drought did take a bit to react to rain though.

The drought came as a result of below average rainfall and back-to-back dry months for the region.

Fedaeff said that from January 1 to March 31, Tauranga had only a third of its average rainfall, with Te Puke getting even less at 29 per cent.

Terri Anderson from the Ministry for Primary Industries said farmers in the region were no strangers to dry weather so they generally planned well for any drought conditions and usually had a lot of feed available.

Since the meteorological drought was declared last week, there had been a decent amount of rainfall in the area. However, it remained low in the Western Bay of Plenty, he said.

Soil moisture was still in a deficit on unirrigated land, whereas historically the soil moisture deficit was reversed during March to a roughly neutral position, he said.

March ranked nationally as the equal-second warmest March on record, with Tauranga's mean temperature 1.5C above average and rainfall below average.


The report also found that the month had higher than normal mean sea level pressure, which led to more northeasterly winds than normal across the country.

Federated Farmers Bay of Plenty president Darryl Jensen said with the lack of rain and strong winds, the area was facing a soil moisture deficit. Galatea and the Western Bay had been the worst affected.

Based in Paengaroa, Jensen said some of his soil 50mm to 1m down was straight powder, meaning growth was struggling.

However, he said recent downpours had boosted farmers' confidence for the winter.

"Nature has a way of equalising itself, so since we have had such a dry summer - we are predicting a wet winter."

Farmers had been stocking up feed reserves with a lot of hay, silage and maize because it had been a good harvest season, he said.

There are currently talks about water allocation between farmers and council, especially in light of continued urbanisation of the city.

Weekend forcast


: Fine, with chance afternoon or evening shower. Max 21C, overnight 12C.

Saturday: Fine. Max 20C, overnight 10C.

Sunday: Cloud increasing, chance late shower. Max 20C, overnight 11C.