Recent "patchy" rainfall following a dry January means the region is not currently at risk of drought, says the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

But Federated Farmers Rotorua executive Neil Heather says significantly more rain is needed before it makes a difference for farmers.

Regional Council data services manager Glenn Ellery said there was 15mm to 70mm of rainfall across the monitoring network this month.

"Although this rain has been patchy, it has provided temporary relief across the region. At a few sites, including Kokomoka in the upper Rangitaiki catchment and Te Teko in the lower Rangitaiki catchment, this rainfall is already more than the total during January."


This won't make a huge difference for farmers however, although many were prepared for a dry summer after previous droughts, Mr Heather said.

"It was only a few mls of rain so it won't make much of a difference, but I think everyone is pretty well on to it. About 50 or 60mm of rain over a few days would be perfect, but we will just have to wait for that."

Mr Ellery said January was characterised by air pressures that resulted in an abnormal north-easterly airflow and a predominance of highs over the country. This resulted in an abundance of dry, warm and sunny weather for most of the country, which was reflected in the month's below normal rainfalls - an average of 40 per cent of normal for the regional council's rain gauge network.

The lack of rain had resulted in soil moisture levels being below normal for the time of year in parts of the Bay of Plenty, with traditional dry areas such as Galatea, Rerewhakaaitu and Reporoa being very dry, he said.

"Most rivers are still above or just approaching normal annual summer low flows. The one notable exception is the Tarawera River, which is just below its average annual low flow," Mr Ellery said.

The council's rain gauge figures show the Bay of Plenty had a wetter December than usual. The Whakatane gauge at Kopeopeo recorded 161mm - 174 per cent of normal - for December, and the gauges at Te Teko and Opotiki wharf had 141.5mm and 190mm - 143 and 183 per cent of normal.

"We were lucky to have rain in October and December last year, as this would have helped recharge the groundwater stores."