Rural firefighters are battling a large scrub fire in North Canterbury as blustery hot north-west winds ravage the region.

While a cold southerly front moves up the South Island, which will being relief to the parched Canterbury region, a vegetation fire is raging outside Culverden.

Twelve fire appliances were racing to the scene near St Leonards Rd at around 3.40pm.

It's understood the fire has spread across 12ha already.


It comes after a large tree branch came down in central Christchurch this afternoon, trapping and injuring a passing French tourist.

The man had to be rescued by firefighters before he was taken to hospital by St John.

And yesterday, five people were injured when a tree fell at the Shotover Jet base outside Queenstown.

Two preschool children were among a family from overseas who were injured by the falling tree in high nor-west winds on the riverbank at Arthurs Point Rd.

A mother and son remain in Dunedin Hospital after the incident at about 1pm yesterday.

The pair, from Wellington, are both in a serious but stable condition.

Police are continuing to make inquiries into the incident.