A heavy downpour of rain came as a relief to Whangarei fire crews who spent the night battling a large suspicious fire on the harbour's edge.

Fire crews from Whangarei, Onerahi, Kamo and Portland were all involved in battling the 150m by 100m pampas grass fire on Onerahi's Waimahanga Track - at the end of George Point Rd - which started about 9.15pm on Saturday.

Onerahi senior station office Mike Chubb said crews from the different stations swapped over during the night but there were four crews at the scene when the blaze was at its peak.

"They were large flames spreading along the front.


"It took about two hours to make the fire safe so that it stopped spreading but it was probably about 3am before it was properly out," he said.

Mr Chubb said crews had to carry heavy gear down and up about 120 stairs to get from the road to where the fire was.

He said crews also had to draw water from the sea.

Mr Chubb said the heavy rain which hit Whangarei early yesterday morning helped dampen things down.

"We were back at the station and then the skies opened up. It was very fortunate especially with pampas grass as the fire gets into the root and it will keep smouldering and start again."

Police also attended the fire which is being treated as suspicious.

Almost 50mm of rain fell in Whangarei from Saturday until 7am Sunday , with 38mm between 4am and 6am.

The rain has given Northland some relief from dry conditions after some record January temperatures in the region.

Almost 200 new temperature records were set around the country last month.

Ninety-four new mean air temperature records alone were set, including at Cape Reinga (20.3C, up 1.3C on average), in Kaitaia (21.6C, up 2.2), and Kerikeri (21.1C, up 1.9).

There were 55 new mean maximum air temperature records, including in Whangarei (26.2C, up 1.7), along with 11 mean minimum air temperature records, including in Kaitaia (18C, up 2.9), and in Kerikeri (17.4C, up 3.3).

Cape Reinga and Kaikohe recorded their second-highest mean minimums, 17.7C and 17C respectively, up 1.8 and 2.8.

There were 21 new record daily maximum temperatures, including at Cape Reinga (26.4C, while Kaikohe recorded its fourth-highest maximum (29.1C).