Myrtle rust has not yet made its way to the Wellington region, and if it does it may not last long.

While some may curse the low temperatures in the capital, those temperatures are expected to kill off the fungal disease if it rears its head in the lower North Island.

The rust has spread rapidly through nearly 50 sites in other parts of the country, but Greater Wellington Regional Council catchment management general manager Wayne O'Donnell said it has not made its way south yet.

"It got to New Zealand, probably from Australia through air currents," he told environment committee members today. "It was inevitable it would arrive here."


As far as the council is aware, myrtle rust has not appeared in the Wellington region, but staff are helping the Ministry for Primary Industries do surveys across the North Island.

The rust is expected to go into remission over the winter period, making it harder to identify in that time.

The council has been told it can continue to plant myrtle species in the meantime, which O'Donnell said were "fundamental" to help with erosion.

He said the rust was unlikely to survive for long in the Lower North Island and South Island due to the lower temperatures.

The region's terrestrial ecology team has been helping the Department of Conservation safeguard myrtle species by collecting seeds of manuka and Metrosideros species from the Wellington region's forests.