Firefighters battling Northland's biggest blaze in more than a decade are bracing for the possible onslaught of cyclone strength winds in coming days.
Yesterday, day 26 of the Kaimaumau fire, 67 ground-based firefighters were backed up by four helicopters, earthmoving machines and about 25 people managing the firefighting and helicopter operations.
Incident controller Peter Clark said temperatures yesterday were in the mid-to-high 20s and winds were light.
However, conditions were expected to worsen tonight with southerly winds tipped to reach 40km/h.
The long-range forecast was uncertain but winds could hit 70km/h by Sunday as a result of Cyclone Cody, which was yesterday passing over Fiji.
Clark said it was likely the top half of the North Island would only be tagged by the cyclone while the worst of the storm passed offshore, which meant Northland would miss the rain but get the peripheral winds.
In preparation for high winds, fire breaks had been strengthened so most were now 30m wide. In the most critical areas some were as wide as 60m.
Helicopters had been used to drop fire retardant along some fire breaks.
Later today four more helicopters would be brought in, boosting the number to eight, and each sector of the fire would have ground crews, water sources and fire appliances ready in case anything happened tonight.
Drones with infrared cameras would be stationed above high-risk areas.
''It's like having a person keeping watch from the top of a 60-foot fire tower,'' he said.
Approval had been sought from DoC and mana whenua to use fire retardant. It was dropped only on firm ground and away from waterways so it wouldn't get into the wetland or sea.
Clark, who is normally based in Tairawhiti but hails from Hokianga, said extra firefighters would also be placed on standby from tonight.
MetService meteorologist Alwyn Bakker said it was too early to say how Northland would be affected by the remnants of Cyclone Cody.
Some models put the cyclone's track over the North Island; in others it didn't even come close.
''It's hard to say at this stage. Tropical cyclones are chaotic by nature,'' he said.
There was potential for showers at the fire site on Friday but that was uncertain.
Last weekend rain doused parts of Northland — Kerikeri recorded 67mm in 24 hours, according to regional council data — but bypassed Kaimaumau almost entirely.
Meanwhile, Fire and Emergency NZ is holding an information session at Wharemaru Marae O Kaimaumau at 11am today.
The meeting will update Waiharara and Kaimaumau residents on firefighting progress and recovery plans.
As of yesterday the fire had covered 2409ha and had a perimeter of 43km.