A large Christchurch fire is being brought under control with those families evacuated as a precaution now back in their homes.

Canterbury Police staff are being stood down after members of the New Zealand Fire Service contain the fire near New Brighton. Superintendent Lane Todd said the majority of cordons had now been taken down.

Fire Service Assistant Area Commander for Christchurch Metro, Greg Crawford, said up to 13 appliances and 65 firefighters fought the blaze at the peak of the fire, plus specialist vehicles including the command unit, water tanker and smoke chaser.

"The fire affected an extensive area on the foreshore and threatened a number of homes. Our current focus is on extinguishing the remaining hotspots to make the area safe while we still have daylight. Investigations into the cause of the fire will be ongoing and a Fire Investigator is expected on site tomorrow."

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Mr Crawford urged everyone to be vigilant as Canterbury was experiencing tinder dry conditions, both in the city and in rural areas.

"Early reporting makes all the difference so if you see smoke or suspicious activity report it straight away by calling 111."

Starting tomorrow, a total fire ban will come into effect in the Christchurch City Council area which includes Banks Peninsula and Akaroa.|