Voting returns for Saturday's local elections in the Far North have shot ahead of 2016 voter numbers for the first time, easing fears of a record low turnout.

In Whangārei and Kaipara, however, the turnout as of yesterday was still trailing behind the number of votes cast at same time in the 2016 election.

Until this week voting figures had been especially dire in the Far North, which had been on track for a turnout of less than 40 per cent for the first time since the district was established in 1989.

A surge of votes since Monday, however, has brought the total counted as of yesterday to 14,375 out of a total of 43,130 enrolled voters — making a turnout of 31.2 per cent so far.


At the same point in the 2016 election the turnout was 29.2 per cent.

Meanwhile, in Whangārei voting numbers continue to lag behind the 2016 figures, despite a slim — and short-lived — reversal on Monday.

As of yesterday, 17,375 votes had been cast by 61,612 enrolled voters, making a turnout of 28.2 per cent. The figure at the same time during the 2016 election was 29.6 per cent.

In the Kaipara District 4475 votes had been cast by 15,806 enrolled voters, a rate of 28.3 per cent — well behind the 2016 rate of 32.8 per cent.

The final turnout in the Far North in 2016 was 41.7 per cent, with 48.9 per cent in 2013 and 46.9 per cent in 2010.

The corresponding figures in Whangārei were 44.77 per cent, 47.7 per cent and 49.7 per cent.

Kaipara's figures over that period can't be compared because democracy was suspended from 2012-16.

■ If you haven't already voted it's too late to post up your ballot papers. You can, however, drop them off at council offices until noon on Saturday.