Fire restrictions are in place across Northland - and fireworks banned in some areas - as fire officials fear a rapidly drying region could ignite over summer.
From yesterday anybody wanting to light a fire outside in Northland may need a permit, with a restricted fire season now in place as the region dries up.
The whole of the Far North, Whangārei and Kaipara districts moved into a restricted fire season from 8am yesterday, meaning a permit may be required to light a fire and, if granted a permit, people will be required to follow the conditions listed.
Limestone Island in Whangārei Harbour will be in a prohibited fire season - meaning no open air fires are allowed on the island.
The private use of fireworks is also banned in the Karikari Peninsula and Ahipara township - including the surrounding areas.
Principal Rural Fire Officer Myles Taylor said the season changes and banning of private use of fireworks have been prompted by the hot, dry and windy conditions.
"These conditions increase the fire danger and make it more likely for a fire to spread and start a wildfire," Taylor said.
He urged people to take care this summer as a rapidly drying region risked combusting.
''(The restricted season) is being introduced a little bit later this year than last year, but then we were already in a drought,'' Taylor said.
In fact the situation got so dry last summer that a total fire ban was imposed across the whole of Northland and Taylor said there's a good chance of another total ban this summer.
''At the moment we're in a moderate fire risk, but if we don't get any (rain) from the cyclone that could be heading our way next week it may go to extreme risk. And if it continues there's a big chance of the total fire ban again.''
He said this will be the third year a fireworks ban had been imposed on the Karikari Peninsula after requests from the community, and as it had been so successful the Ahipara community also wanted them banned this summer.
''In Karikari they were getting a lot of fireworks on New Year's Eve - and we would get a few callouts to fires caused by fireworks - and the community wanted that to stop, and since we have had the ban we haven't had any problems,'' Taylor said.
''Ahipara saw it working and asked for a ban too.''
He said initially people found to have let off fireworks would be "educated" before any action such as a fine was considered.
Taylor said fireworks could cause devastation in Northland at this time of the year, with the region's scrub particularly dry and combustible.
''A few years ago we had a fire on Motorua Island caused by fireworks and we were very lucky that we were able to put that out before it spread too far. Fireworks can really cause major problems, especially when the ground is so dry.''
Anyone planning a summer holiday in Northland should also obey the fire season and be safe with fire.
"We typically see a lot of tourists in the area during this time of year, so ask them to be fire safe too," he said.
"Go to www.checkitsalright.nz to double check the fire season in your area, or the area you're travelling to, and whether a fire permit is required.
"You can also use www.checkitsalright.nz to find tips on how to reduce the risk of fire, and apply for a permit if needed.''
Fire and Emergency NZ can make people pay fire suppression costs that could run into tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. For serious offences, such as knowingly or recklessly lighting a fire in the open air during a total fire ban, offenders can be jailed for up to two years or fined up to $300,000.