All Blacks legend Richie McCaw says his role flying helicopters to help with the Port Hills fire is "pretty minor" compared to those dropping monsoon buckets of water on the blaze.

Speaking to NZME in his first interview since the wildfires started on Monday, the former captain said: "It's been pretty busy. I've been doing little jobs of popping up people to have a look what's going on, where the fire is getting to, to help them make decisions. So it's pretty minor compared to what these boys are doing with the buckets."

McCaw has been flying over the giant blaze all week, mainly ferrying fire chiefs and officials to help them make decisions on what to tackle next.

The company, Christchurch Helicopters where he is an owner and director, has five choppers operating in the area, which claimed the life of decorated war hero and father-of-two Steve Askin on Tuesday.

Today the fire is looking much more manageable, he said.


Flames yesterday were "pretty serious" but today is largely smoke.

"Compared to this time yesterday, it's a lot better," McCaw said.

"But it's amazing how much area has been whacked and it's pretty sad when you see some houses that have been nailed.

"When it's so close to the city and at that amount of black [smoke], it's pretty horrible."

McCaw joined the rescue efforts on November 14 after the giant magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit North Canterbury and Marlborough.

He helped take search and rescue workers and supplies to the cut off communities.

"That's one thing about helicopters, they're usually needed when things aren't so good for people, but it's nice to be able to help," he said today.