A wet December has led to a quiet summer for Hawke's Bay fire services - however they warn the region is not out of the woods yet.

Unlike last summer, which was marred by tinder dry conditions leading to numerous grass fires across the region, spots of rain so far this season meant "it's been very quiet, and we would all really like it to stay that way", Hawkes Bay Principal Rural Fire Officer Trevor Mitchell said.

He said rural fire services had only dealt with two significant vegetation fires so far this season.

A bushfire spread up the cliff between Cape Kidnappers and the Clifton Camp Ground overnight on New Years Eve, believed to have been caused by a campfire left burning.


Overnight on December 21 a large grass, scrub, and pine tree slash blaze at Mahia threatened three houses, and took six hours to be contained. It was made worse by strong winds gusting up to 90km/h.

Mr Mitchell said heavy rain over the Christmas and New Year period had helped, with an unusually dry November leaving parched conditions around the region.

MetService meteorologist John Law said despite heavy rainfall in the last week of December, the last couple of months of 2017 had been drier than average with just 12mm falling in November.

In the past month there was 71mm of rainfall in the Napier, Hastings area. However the majority of December's total of 56mm of rain fell on Boxing Day alone.

"Any rain is useful rain, but in terms of soaking in [the ground] it's better if rain is spread out more evenly," Mr Law said.

Mr Mitchell said the people of Hawke's Bay were generally very aware of the fire danger, and large fires in the past year had raised awareness nationally.

However, Mr Mitchell said fire services were not out of the woods yet.

"The big fires last year were in February. It's a bit of a double-edged sword, we've now got a lot of long grass and temperatures are getting back up there."

All rural Hawke's Bay areas are in a restricted fire season, meaning any fires require a permit. This includes cultural cooking fire, braziers, or fire pits.

- To check the fire status go to www.checkitsalright.nz