The 22 New Zealand firefighters who have been helping their tired Australian counterparts battled the relentless bush fires burning through the country have returned home.

Families gathered at Auckland International Airport tonight to greet their loved ones who had been away for almost two weeks.

Among them were Bowie, 3, and Billimae, 1, who gave their dad Joseph Ineson, from Shelly Beach Station in Auckland, a big hug.

Cheers rang out as the Kiwi contingent entered the arrivals terminal.


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NZ liaison officer Craig Cottrill said they felt warmly welcomed back and were all looking forward to seeing their families again.

The firefighters are from all over New Zealand including Invercargill, Nelson and Auckland.

Earlier this month Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced 22 firefighters would head across the ditch after a formal request was received from the Australian Government.

Ardern said, at the time, New Zealand would continue to do what it could to assist as Australia dealt with the extremely dynamic, dangerous and ongoing situation.

The latest NZ crew was made up of 20 firefighters, a strike team leader and a liaison officer.

The firefighters were based east of Canberra and helped put out the Charleys Forest blaze last week. The blaze spread from the Currowan fire that burned through hundreds of thousands of hectares and devastated large parts of New South Wales.

Firefighter Joseph Ineson is reunited with his kids. Photo / Peter Meecham
Firefighter Joseph Ineson is reunited with his kids. Photo / Peter Meecham

Last week the team of NZ firefighters said the workload was "huge" and Australian crews had no end in sight.


Crew leader Ken Keenan said at the time the heat and different terrain made the conditions extremely difficult, but they were able to provide some reprieve to local crews.

Since October, New Zealand has sent 179 firefighters to help battle the relentless blaze and our Government has not ruled out sending more.