Water restrictions still apply throughout the Far North for those who tap into district council systems, despite the significant rain that fell in many places on Sunday.

The level 3 restriction in Kaitaia prohibits the use of hoses and sprinklers, which might be of more concern to those wishing to wash cars rather than watering gardens.

The council is expected to discuss water restrictions this week, but there had been no news of them being lifted as of yesterday.



Rain ranging from steady to torrential was welcomed around Northland on Sunday, the fall in Whangārei lifting the city's Whau Valley dam by 1.5m, which was still not enough to ease concerns however.

That took the dam to 58 per cent full, still well below normal level for this time of year but up from 45 per cent full six weeks ago, and from 54 per cent earlier in May.

Ruakākā's 50mm of rain took its dam to 60 er cent full.

Whangārei District Council water services manager Andrew Venmore said the rain was a "Godsend," but not enough to lift water restrictions in the city. One more "rain event" would be needed before a change in restrictions could be considered, and at least two more like Sunday's to get back to normal.

Whangārei received 107mm of rain on Sunday, the city's fourth-highest 24-hour fall for the month of May since records began in 1943. That took the total for the month to 209mm, compared to the average of 110mm, more than the city had seen in the preceding six months.

Chris Brandolino, principal scientist for Niwa, said a good week of rain, thanks to a northerly moist flow from the tropics, had boosted rainfall figures around Northland for the month, but some parts of the region were still in need of more.

Kaitaia officially recorded 90mm, just over half the May average of 167mm (the Northland Age recorded 103.9mm, compared to the 90-year average of 129.7mm, with 36mm in the 24 hours to 9am Monday). Kerikeri recorded 285mm, compared to the 152mm May average, and Kaikohe 174mm, well above the average of 129mm.

Rain did not fall where it was most needed, however, Dargaville receiving 75mm, compared to the May average of 129mm.


Winter officially began on Monday, Brandolino saying predictions for the season were for average to below average rainfall.

Meanwhile Federated Farmers Northland chairman John Blackwell said about 40mm had fallen on his sheep and beef farm south of Dargaville over the weekend. It had been gentle rain, he said, so there was no runoff or damage to paddocks, but nor had it been enough to fill dams.

While grass had begun to grow, farmers had already used much of their winter supplementary feed, and would now be hoping for a mild winter that would allow pastures to continue growing.

MetService meteorologist Andrew James said another low-pressure system would bring more rain to the region yesterday, before cold air moved in over the weekend. Thunderstorms could result in localised rain falls of up to 25mm in short blasts.

Northland Regional Council monitoring and hydrology team reports indicate rainfall for this year so far is currently 40 to 45 per cent below normal in all the region's main centres. According to Northland Age figures and records, Kaitaia is 55 per cent short of normal.

Far North District Council communications manager Richard Edmondson said the weekend rain had improved soil moisture levels and water flows in key waterways, especially in east coast areas such as Kaeo and Kerikeri, but it had not fallen evenly across the district, particularly in the northernmost reaches, the Mid North and west coast, where it was most needed.

The Northland Regional Council said last month that the district needed 900-1000mm of rain before October to avoid water shortages next year.

"We will need more rain events like that at the weekend, and rainfall distribution will need to be more even, before the drought is over," Edmondson said.