The impact of Queen's Birthday weekend rain on the Hawke's Bay drought is a bit like the result in a close election. It's too early to call, and it still needs a rainmaker.

That's the verdict for farmers after rainfall at several places on the Heretaunga Plains had in less than 48 hours been the equivalent of more than half the average for June, after seven months straight of well-below average rain.

According to Hawke's Bay Regional Council figures from almost 70 recording stations from Urewera country in northern Hawke's Bay to the southern CHB coast, the heaviest rain since Friday came at Park's Peak Hut in the ranges west of Hastings, with 157.5mm (more than 6 inches in imperial measure), and just to the north at Te Koau, where there was 141mm.

There were also falls of over 120mm near the coast east of Waipukurau and Waipawa but Heretaunga or Ruataniwha plains' sites generally had less than 60mm, and at isolated usual rainfall-topping locations such a Pukeorapa, inland from Nuhaka.


But while more is needed, farmers such as Federated Farmers Hawke's Bay president Jim Galloway said that with more than 50mm of rain in two days and a warm Tuesday afternoon it couldn't be better.

"It is just what the cockies ordered," he said, although hoping for a few repeat cycles in the unpredictable Hawke's Bay winter.

Taihape Rd farmer Selwyn Dorward was relishing the mix, saying that with 60mm of rain and being back to shorts on a warm afternoon he was "a bit brighter than I was on Saturday".

The rain had been steady, the ground had opened up and there was some greenery.

"It won't grow cattle tucker but it'll help the sheep along," he said. "It's the first decent lot since January. Usually once it opens up there is some more."

Regional council figures for about 70 recording stations from the Urewera forest area in Northern Hawke's Bay to Porangahau on the CHB coast confirmed that May was the seventh month in a row with below-average rainfall at most stations south of Napier.

A Hawke's Bay region forecast from national weather agency MetService said some rain could be expected up to Friday this week, which is traditionally one of the wettest of the year in Hawke's Bay.

But the longer-range computer-based forecast for next week is for more sunny weather, and no rain.


Council principal air scientist Dr Kathleen Kozyniak said that last month the region ended up with 70 per cent average May rainfall, though both southern Hawke's Bay and Waikaremoana fell within the "normal" range of about 85 per cent.

Dr Kozyniak said there had been some good movement in soil moisture, with both Ongaonga and Bridge Pa just moving out of the lowest 10th percentile.

"Seasonal forecasting models favour a westerly flow for June to August, with drier weather for eastern areas," she said.

The Bay's heaviest rainfall in May was 267.5mm at Mt Manuoha in the Waikaremoana area, just over its May average.

The lowest was at Heretaunga Plains recording station Awanui, with 30mm, compared with a May average of 43mm. Nowhere on the Heretaunga and Ruataniwha Plains recorded more than 50mm for the month.