A huge fire on Māngere Mountain, in South Auckland, early this morning has been extinguished. The fire left much of the city shrouded in smoke.
Up to 25 firefighters were at the scene of the large vegetation fire, which started just before 2am.
Firefighters said the fire started on the upper rim of the second crater and spread down to the bottom, where it mostly burnt itself out. They had been at the fire since 2am but were unable to fight it properly in the dark as it was too dangerous - just cutting off the fire from spreading further round the crater.
Six crews were still there at 7am but three were going to swap with other crews after working in arduous conditions, dragging hoses hundreds of metres up the mountain in an effort to keep the blaze contained while the chopper with monsoon bucket attached did its work.
The helicopter arrived just before 6am. A reporter at the scene said after about 10 monsoon buckets of water the fire that was spreading down the northwestern side of the maunga was almost out and the smoke was clearing.
Firefighters were climbing up and down the peak inspecting burnt patches and hosing them down.
Earlier the road going towards the top of the mountain was blocked off as the fire spread down the side of the Manukau Harbour. The fire was producing a huge amount of smoke.
A Fire and Emergency NZ spokesman said the blaze covered an area 200m by 200m.
"Access has been difficult due to it being up the mountain."
There was no danger to any neighbouring buildings, fire authorities said, but people in the area were being told to stay indoors.
"We're telling people to avoid the area and to keep your doors and windows closed."
Overhead signs on the motorway warned motorists to avoid Māngere.
Just before 5.30am, the spokesman said the wind direction meant that a lot of smoke was heading towards the Auckland CBD.
He said they were getting a lot of calls from members of the public in the area worried there was a fire in central Auckland, given a smoky haze was covering parts of the city.
Members of the public have reported smelling smoke from as far as the North Shore.
The fire is being treated as suspicious and inquiries are under way.