Firefighters are on high alert and farmers say the dry spell is starting to ''bite'' as the region tackles more than 20 days without any significant rainfall.

Figures from MetService show the last time it rained in Tauranga was on January 16 - with 15.6mm of rainfall recorded for the month.

MetService forecaster James Millard said the dry spell was likely to continue and the outlook for the next 10 days was mainly fine weather.


NIWA metrologist Seth Carrier said the stretch of coastline from Tauranga to Whakatāne was officially a 'hotspot', with soil moisture readings below average throughout the Bay of Plenty.

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Tauranga had experienced only 20 per cent of the usual rainfall for January. But despite the low rainfall and soils drying out, the Bay of Plenty was not considered to be at risk of drought just yet.

No rain has meant pasture has browned in many places in the Bay of Plenty. Photo / Andrew Warner
No rain has meant pasture has browned in many places in the Bay of Plenty. Photo / Andrew Warner

However, deputy principal rural fire officer Steve Webb said as firefighters battle blazes in Nelson, the Bay of Plenty was facing a "bordering extreme" fire hazard.

There was a total fire ban in place, he said.

Webb urged people to be vigilant during this time and to ask the fire service for advice if they had an existing fire permit.

The firefighting force had dropped in numbers as five staff had travelled to Nelson to help with the blazes that have divested Pigeon Valley, which is 30km southwest of Nelson.

Ten extra staff were also on standby to head down to the Tasman region if needed.

It was unlikely a scenario similar to Nelson would unfold, but there were "pockets of vegetation" that reach a similar dryness level, he said.

"There's some wind that's forecast that gives us the jitters," he said.

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Rotorua/Taupō sharemilker chairperson Alastair Neville said cows were suffering from heat-stress. Photo / Andrew Warner
Rotorua/Taupō sharemilker chairperson Alastair Neville said cows were suffering from heat-stress. Photo / Andrew Warner

Bay of Plenty Federated Farmers provincial president Darryl Jensen said the dry spell was starting to "bite" farmers.

Farmers were coping, for now, thanks to surplus winter feed gathered from earlier in the summer, but this was not going to last.

The warm weather had forced farmers to make the hard calls by culling "unproductive" animals or selling extra stock earlier than usual, he said.

Federated Farmers Rotorua/Taupō provincial sharemilker chairman Alastair Neville said there had been a decline in milk production due to "heat-stressed" cow.s

It could become a long-term issue if pasture growth heading into autumn was impacted, he said.

Last week Tauranga City Council introduced water restrictions after a 30 per cent rise in average consumption.

It banned the use of sprinklers after more than 52 million litres of water was being used a day.

Meanwhile, Tauranga Hospital had reported a spike in people showing up the emergency department with issues that could be related to the heat.

FACTBOX
Fire Hazard in the Bay of Plenty
- No rainfall in Tauranga since January 16
- Total fire ban - existing permits are being reviewed on a case by case basis

Weather forecast for Tauranga
8 Feb - High 23C, low 16C. Fine apart from evening cloud. Northeasterlies.
9 Feb - High 24C, low 17C. Partly cloudy with chance of a shower Northeast breezes.
10 Feb - High 25C, low 17C. Mainly fine. Light winds and sea breezes

Source: MetService