Rural firefighters are battling a large scrub fire in North Canterbury as blustery hot north-west winds ravage the region.

While a cold southerly front moves up the South Island, which will being relief to the parched Canterbury region, a vegetation fire is raging outside Culverden.

Twelve fire appliances were racing to the scene near St Leonards Rd at around 3.40pm.

It's understood the fire has spread across 12ha already.

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It comes after a large tree branch came down in central Christchurch this afternoon, trapping and injuring a passing French tourist.

The man had to be rescued by firefighters before he was taken to hospital by St John.

And yesterday, five people were injured when a tree fell at the Shotover Jet base outside Queenstown.

Two preschool children were among a family from overseas who were injured by the falling tree in high nor-west winds on the riverbank at Arthurs Point Rd.

A mother and son remain in Dunedin Hospital after the incident at about 1pm yesterday.

The pair, from Wellington, are both in a serious but stable condition.

Police are continuing to make inquiries into the incident.