Much of Hawke's Bay has had the first signs of climatic relief from the drought with falls of up to about 10 millimetres of rain overnight on Monday.

But to most it was as good as nothing, with MetService recording the heaviest fall in the area from Napier south being 11.4mm at Hawke's Bay Airport, while falls of about 10mm were recorded in central and Southern Hawke's Bay, at Dannevirke and on the Takapau Plains.

A similar fall was also recorded by farmer Paul Van Beers, at Mangaorapa, near Porangahau, while in the north 6.4mm was recorded in Wairoa.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council rain maps showed weekend rain in drier areas such as State Highway 50 through Onga Onga and Tikokino and coastal areas south of Napier to be mainly less than 8mm.

The drench container
The drench container "farm" at Gwavas Garden as owners sate the thirst of the plants. Photo / Supplied.

The rain was the first in most areas from Napier for more than a fortnight, and the first of 10mm or more in any 24-hour period in about six weeks.

There was 4.5mm at Tikokino's Gwavas Gardens, or "Gibson Desert" as owner Stuart Gibson put it, but it may just as well have been nothing.

It's the longest-standing "volunteer" rain recording station in the country, with figures going back to 1889. It averages just over 1000mm a year, and 80-90mm a month.

But there've been just 187mm since November 1.

"That's just two months' rainfall in six months," he said.

"Most of it's 2-4mm at a time; it doesn't even have time to get into the ground, so you've really had much less."

It's posed problems watering the plants, with hundreds of thousands of litres carried in drench containers over the last few months – "with 132 hectares of virgin bush looking like it also do with a bit of a drink".

He mused on new Facebook page Hawke's Bay Drought: "We have a 9ha drench container farm … even though we have only been farming these drench containers since early January we are sick of the sight of them."


More isolated showers were being forecast for later on Monday with rain on Wednesday, but not likely to be in the quantities sought by farmers, with 3-4 day falls totalling 60mm-plus.