New Zealanders can expect to see more stunning sunsets as smoke and dust from the Australian bush fires heads our way this weekend.

With the haze comes a burst of warm air, bringing temperatures in the central North Island to 30C in the inland towns of Tokoroa, Taumarunui and Te Kūiti today.

Thames, Rotorua and Taupō will hit 29C, Hamilton 28C and Tauranga 27C, but Auckland and Wellington will sit on 21C.

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MetService meteorologist Tom Adams said a very fast jet of wind was blowing the smoke from the bush fires together with warm air, directly from Australia to New Zealand, causing the extreme spring temperatures.

"There's the transfer of smoke and dust but there's also the transfer of warm air that's over there."

Adams said high pressure sitting in the North Tasman sea and a north-westerly wind coming across the Tasman was stirring up the conditions.

"That basically takes whatever is in Australia and brings it our way.

"Because it's coming over quite fast it doesn't have as much time to cool down, which is why the air mass is coming over quite hot."

Adams said the smoke and warm air was focused on southern and central New Zealand but gradually working its way north.

A haze was evident in Wellington and New Plymouth yesterday and Adams said smoke, dust and cloud in the sky tonight would make for a picturesque sunset.

"It's smoke from bush fires being infected across the country towards us. What you really want for nice sunsets is lots of different layers of cloud.


"That mixture of high cloud and smoke means there's plenty of things in the atmosphere to refract and reflect that light. So we'll get lots of nice colours basically."

There will be a respite on Monday from the heat as the high pressure breaks off but a second wave will arrive in New Zealand from Tuesday.

Christchurch will have highs and lows between 19C today and 28C tomorrow, but other South Island areas won't fare as well because of cloud.

Hamilton remains consistent with 27C on Sunday, 26C on Monday and 25C on Tuesday. Auckland will stay cooler for much of the week.

An out-of-control bush fire threatens Johns River on Australia's mid-north coast in New South Wales. Photo / Nathan Edwards
An out-of-control bush fire threatens Johns River on Australia's mid-north coast in New South Wales. Photo / Nathan Edwards

In New South Wales, almost 2.5 million acres have burned during the past few weeks. There are concerns the fires might merge and form mega blazes.

Six people have been killed, koalas injured and properties destroyed as firefighters continue to scramble to bring the fires under control.

In Sydney, the smoke brought air pollution levels in line with some of the world's most polluted cities, and the young, elderly and ill have been warned to limit their exposure.

Record temperatures are also gripping the country, making conditions worse.

Fires have also burned in Queensland.