Like all bushfires, the blaze which swept across 11 hectares on the edge of Whitianga Estuary was unpredictable and difficult to fight.

Principal rural fire officer for the Thames Valley Rural Valley Authority Paul Shaw says it was a tough battle and due to "volatile" conditions "we were unable to leave ground crews in here, it was too dangerous.... and helicopters were unable to operate at night".

Six properties were burnt to the ground.

Buildings, crops and vegetation on Wilderland Sustainable Community - an alternative lifestyle property - were destroyed.


Mr Shaw says houses can be rebuilt, but lives cannot. He says no one died "largely due to the fact that we got everybody evacuated nice and early yesterday".

Residents whose properties were left untouched know how lucky they are.

Flames came within around 800 metres of Whiti Farm Park, which is home to around 150 animals including goats, pigs, ostriches, turtles, cats and dogs.

Farm owner Ronnie James says she heard the sirens going past but initially was unaware of the potential risk on the nearby hill.

"Well our first thought was we don't know which ways it's going and our concern was all the animals have to be evacuated... if it turns and comes onto our property we have to get everyone (all the animals) off."

But the wind was in their favour - and their property was spared.

Mrs James says they count themselves lucky.

Members of the Wilderland Sustainable Community, which was severely damaged, released a statement thanking the people that have come to their aid.


The property was developed over more than 50 years.

They are vowing to continue their work, despite the devastating blow.

Mr Shaw says they do not know what caused the fire yet, but investigation teams will be investigating. He says this fire is a huge reminder that people should not be lighting fires.

"If the public came up here then they would see how important it is."

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