Blue skies might be shining overhead but don't be tempted to grab the hose to wash the car because tough new water restrictions have kicked in - and those flouting the rules face fines up to $20,000.

With Auckland facing its worst drought on record, city councillors earlier voted unanimously to bring in stage 1 water restrictions from today.

Local dams now sit at 45.5 per cent of maximum storage levels, compared to a historical average of 76.7 per cent for this time of year, after January to April were the driest months in city history.

Residents are not allowed to wash their cars or water gardens with outdoor hoses and are asked to take shorter showers.

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Rogue water users can be hit with fines up to $20,000, although water supplier Watercare has said it will opt for an education-first approach.

And the situation isn't likely to improve, MetService meteorologist Andrew James says.

"There could be a few light showers in the next few days, but we are not going to see the kind of relief that is needed."

The city can expect a top of 19C today with fine spells and showers north of the city before cloudy highs of 19C on Sunday and Monday.

James said the Auckland Airport gauge showed a bit less than half of its year-to-date average rainfall this year.

And while a "southeast flow" was due to come in over the upper part of the North Island in the coming days, it wasn't tipped to reach Auckland.

"That does bring in a few showers to eastern regions, so places like Gisborne and the Coromandel Peninsula and Northland and parts of Auckland region.

It might be a nice morning in Auckland today, but don't do this. Tough water restrictions have kicked in and those flouting the rules can be hit with hefty fines. Photo / 123rf
It might be a nice morning in Auckland today, but don't do this. Tough water restrictions have kicked in and those flouting the rules can be hit with hefty fines. Photo / 123rf

"But in this direction, Auckland city and southern Auckland tend to be more sheltered but there could be the odd shower that sneaks in with that flow."

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With no immediate end in sight, Aucklanders have been asked to leave their hoses alone.

If you do see someone flouting the rules, Watercare has asked residents to have a friendly conversation with the person, reminding them of the shortage of the precious resource.

You can wash your car or water your garden as long as you use a bucket or watering can rather than a hose, Watercare said.

Hoses and water blasters are banned for home or business use unless it is for a health, safety, emergency or biosecurity reason.

Car washes also must shut unless they use recycled water.

Sports fields, plants or paddocks must not be watered, except those which have an irrigation system fitted with soil moisture or rain sensors.

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To help Aucklanders evade the mammoth $20,000 fine or a stern telling-off, forecaster WeatherWatch.co.nz has given its own advice about conserving water.

This includes avoiding water blasting the house or driveway - leave that for later in the year. And don't go washing your car either.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff said that the council is implementing the first stage of restrictions on water use to save the city's drought-stricken reserves. Video / Michael Craig

Ensure dishwashers are fully stacked or on economy mode and make sure you are doing bigger laundry loads.

People should be taking shorter showers and, if you need to have a bath, don't fill the tub as high as you usually would.

WeatherWatch also suggests taking a page out of your childhood and sharing the same bathwater with other family members.

Stage 1 restrictions also prohibit the watering of sports fields, plants or paddocks unless an irrigation system is fitted with soil moisture or rain sensors.

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Car washes can only operate if they use recycled water.

"I want Aucklanders to remember that if we don't get it right and save water now, we will have to implement harder restrictions in the future and no one wants that," Mayor Phil Goff has said.

"I hope Aucklanders will understand the need to adhere to these measures, but if we have to, we have a range of enforcement options available for those who choose to ignore the restrictions."

Supercity Property Services director Murray Robertson says his company is facing a $700,000 loss and 26 jobs threatened by the upcoming Auckland water restrictions. VIDEO / Brett Phibbs

Watercare said the restrictions were needed after the total volume of water stored in city dams dropped below 50 per cent for the first time in more than 25 years.

It said rainfall was expected next week in the Hunua region around the city dams but it was much less than usually experienced at this time of year.

"We desperately need to preserve what's left. Please use water wisely and reduce wastage of this precious resource," it says.

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However, one thing Watercare did want city residents doing was to keep washing their hands "to combat Covid-19".

Auckland Council said its maintenance teams were also following the restrictions by:

• Suspending all water use in the town centre, including cleaning bus shelters, although it may use some water to remove bodily fluids or if there is a Health and Safety issue.

• Suspending cleaning of all external buildings, including libraries and halls.

• Turning off irrigation of sports fields and the city's garden network, although some sports fields will be watered using bore water.

• Switching off beach showers and leaving off drinking fountains that were already not in use because of the Covid-19 pandemic.