The last of the firefighters who have been controlling a large blaze in Northland are on their way home.

The scrub fire in Tutukaka took hold around 4.30 this afternoon, coming within 200 metres of some homes.

The Fire Service had been on alert to find out whether residents needed to be evacuated.

Sixteen crews and three helicopters brought it under control within a couple of hours - but not before the flames ravaged around 25 hectares.

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The flames ravaged around 25 hectares. Photo / Supplied via Shane Reti
The flames ravaged around 25 hectares. Photo / Supplied via Shane Reti

Crews were called in from Whangarei, Onerahi, Marsden Point, Kamo, Hikurangi and Ngunguru.

Tutukaka Block Road was closed, cutting off access to Wellington Bay.

Fire Service northern communications shift manager Jarron Philips says the helicopters continued working until sunset, and the blaze has been dampened down.

Firefighters will return in the morning to check on any hot spots.

An investigation is underway into what sparked the blaze.

Auckland man Richard Thomson was on holiday with his family on Kowharewa Beach when he spotted smoke billowing out from the land behind them.

Along with other holiday-makers, he ran to help keep the fire away from a nearby house.

"It was all go from there," he said. "A big group of us ran over there and hosed down the house, it was all a bit full for a moment."

Three helicopters tackled the flames. Photo / Facebook
Three helicopters tackled the flames. Photo / Facebook

Video shot by Mr Thomson at around 4.45pm showed flames burning perilously near to the property while he and others pitched in to contain it.

There did not seem to be anyone home at the house at the time, he said.

"I saw the new BMW parked in the driveway with the keys in it and I just about jumped in and moved it. I think it was saved before it went up the back of the property. There would've been about ten guys there with hoses to put it all out.

"Everyone chipped in. When you need people, they just arrive. It's funny, isn't it?"

When the fire service arrived they left the scene and he said a lot of people were leaving the valley in cars

Mr Thomsen said he was pleased the fire was now under control, although fire fighters were still in the area.

"I'm glad it's over, it's been a big day."

Whangarei MP Dr Shane Reti said he had been talking to residents on Tutukaka Block Rd about the fire.

"Residents were describing how the flames came up through the gully, to the top of the road and the flames at that point, when they reached the road, were as high as the powerlines," he said.

People in the affected properties had been fighting back the flames and embers with garden hoses, despite not being on town-supplied water.

"They're on tank water and it's been a very dry past few days," he said.

While the fire was largely under control, there was still a lot of smoke and hot areas.

Although the cause of the fire remains unknown, Dr Reti said residents were suspicious it might have started by someone throwing a cigarette out a car window.

"There was no obvious human activity down in the gully where it was supposed to have started," Dr Reti said.

The residents were shaken-up by the fire, he said.

"To see the flames leap as high as the powerlines, that's very worrying when it's just across the road from your property. When the flames are that high you can feel the heat."