There was a large-scale response from fire crews around Auckland after smoke was detected in a downtown tower this evening.

Up to 70 firefighters and 16 fire trucks were called to the Ntec Tertiary Group building - on the corner of Swanson St and Hobson Rd - just before 7pm.

The group is made up of five tertiary providers.

A spokesman for the Fire Service called it a "major response'' and had fire appliances sent to it from as far away as Mt Roskill, Devonport and Ellerslie.


Authorities said the high-rise had been heavily smoke-logged and firefighters quickly carried out a search of the entire building, floor by floor, to ensure everybody had got out.

Firefighters were sent to the third floor, where the blaze was believed to have started.

Ambulance officers also entered the building.

Ntec facilities manager Akhil Chopra said he and a number of staff were closing up for the day, after students left, when he suddenly smelled smoke.

He opened the door on level 3 and saw smoke filling up the area.

"I had to check everyone was out and we just got out.

"That was about 6:30 but students left at 6 o'clock."

Chopra said he did not see an actual fire.

The floor is a lecture area, but also has a small kitchen.

The bottom of Hobson Rd and the whole of Swanson St was cordoned off by police as emergency staff carried out their work.

Members of the public were evacuated and a large crowd had gathered around the area.

A few people could be seen poking their heads out from windows at the building next door.

The fire was "quickly contained", the Fire Service tweeted at 7.14pm. People were also allowed back into the tower then.

The building occupies the tower at 20 Hobson St as well as two adjoining buildings.

"Ntec prepares students for careers in accounting, business, computing, cookery, hospitality, and health services, and offers a wide selection of English courses, including general, business, academic, IELTS and TESOL," Ntec's website said.

"Students have the option of completing short-term English and hospitality courses, one and two year diploma programmes, and one-year top-up programmes to the University of Northampton's MBA and BA (Hons) Business and Management degrees."