The blaze at Cape Reinga has been well and truly extinguished after a joint effort from fire crews, forestry workers and the Department of Conservation.
Fire and Emergency NZ deputy principal rural fire officer Clinton Lyall said steep terrain, hot and dry conditions and being located a fair distance from resources were challenges in getting the fire, which razed 4ha of native bush, under control.
The fire started near Te Rerenga Wairua carpark and was burning on the ridge of the Sandy Bay Track.
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Whangarei–based Forest Protection Services sent a drone up yesterday about 5.30am to look for any hot spots and found none, Lyall said.
Fire crews were called to the blaze on Wednesday afternoon after being alerted by Ngāti Kuri ambassadors.
About 60 visitors and 20 vehicles, mainly campervans and cars, were evacuated from the carpark while fire crews from Kaitaia and Houhora battled the blaze, along with helicopters from Salt Air, Northland Helicopters and Skywork Helicopters.
A fire crew from Rangiputa stayed overnight as a precaution, and access to the iconic lighthouse was closed from the top of State Highway 1 from the carpark to Tapotupotu Rd.
A team of contract firefighters from Far North Roading, led by Shorty Murray, dampened hot spots the following day and a helicopter was on standby in case there were any flare-ups.
Lyall said an initial investigation didn't reveal the cause, "but it could have been someone stopping for a break for a cigarette, which shows how volatile things are".
"Considering how dry it is and the location – how far away resources are – care needs to be taken around cigarettes and heavy machinery, and anything that can cause a spark around dry areas."
The road was reopened on Thursday at 5pm.