Helicopters with monsoon buckets are back in the air today as more than 100 residents of a Christchurch seaside community were evacuated from an approaching blaze.

Governors Bay is under threat after a wind change sent one of the fires raging out of control on Christchurch's Port Hills towards homes in the harbour settlement.

The fire is now within 150m of the Sign of the Kiwi. The harbour settlement lies just 3km from the iconic Port Hills cafe.

Christchurch City Council this morning activated an Emergency Operations Centre to handle those displaced by the worsening firestorm.


An aerial attack started at first light with around a dozen helicopters in the skies aggressively attacking the latest firefront.

The council said the fire had tracked downhill through the forest to below the powerlines.

The Christchurch Adventure Park remains closed today with firefighters working to control hotspots in that area.

Christchurch residents say the out-of-control blaze has clearly worsened overnight and giant flames are visible from Hoon Hay and Somerfield.

The fire worsened overnight and large flames are visible from several kilometres away. Photo / Joshua Price
The fire worsened overnight and large flames are visible from several kilometres away. Photo / Joshua Price

Police and firefighters evacuated all streets in Governors Bay above the volunteer fire brigade's station overnight.

People were initially taken to the fire station but temporary accommodation has now been set up at Governors Bay School, which has been closed for the day because of the fire threat.

Selwyn District Council spokesman Stephen Hill said 107 people living at the bay were forced to evacuate overnight and were now being cared for by civil defence volunteers.

Locals, families of firefighters, and the nearby cafe donated food and drinks for the stricken families.

Frances Willems, supervisor of the community-led response by Civil Defence-trained volunteers, said most of the evacuees left the centre at around 9am. Some were allowed home but others, especially those in the Allendale area where helicopters are still dropping water from monsoon buckets filled by salt water of the harbour, weren't allowed to return to their homes.


Willems said the mood was calm in the centre overnight, with people happy to chat through events.

"It's been an amazing response from the community," she said.

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Fire Service southern communications shift manager Rewi Grace said it was important to get everyone out early from the fire's new path as a safety precaution.

"In conjunction with the police we've evacuated all the properties in streets above the Governors Bay fire station and above Allandale."

The fire has also knocked out power to about 50 homes in Governors Bay, Marleys Hill and Landsdowne this morning.

Lines company Orion hoped to have power restored for most before nightfall tonight, but about 12 homes in Lansdowne and Marleys Hill could be without power until Sunday evening as firefighting efforts continued.

Geotech experts are assessing rockfall hazard over Governors Bay and Allandale, while air space has been restricted to allow fire fighting planes free access to the area.

Fire crews from across the district, including Diamond Harbour, Lyttelton, Rangiora, Woodend, Lincoln and Rolleston are helping protect threatened properties as the fire approaches the settlement.

Current easterly weather conditions are helping firefighting operations on the Governors Bay site. A change to north-east winds is forecast for later today.

Paula Roberts posted on Facebook the fire had taken a grim turn in the space of a few hours.

The fire worsened overnight and large flames are visible from several kilometres away. Photo / Joshua Price
The fire worsened overnight and large flames are visible from several kilometres away. Photo / Joshua Price

"Was heart breaking waking up to see from our house it has clearly gone from bad to worse ...it was an inferno again this morning."

NewstalkZB reporter Joshua Price described the fire as a "glowing, snaking line going down the hill".

He said the wind shifted direction just after midnight and pushed the fire closer to the Adventure Park, which has been under threat since yesterday.

Price said the air was filled with thick smoke.

"You could smell that all throughout Christchurch this morning."

Multiple fire fronts could be seen glowing at different points on the Port Hills kilometres apart.

"It's definitely a vast fire still," he said.

- Additional reporting: Christchurch StarChrist