A restricted fire season will begin in Whanganui on Saturday.

The restriction means a permit from the Fire Service is required to light fires in the open air within the district, including all rural land.

The restriction includes the lighting of braziers and fireworks.

Exceptions include barbecues and hangi fires lit a minimum of three metres from any combustible structures or vegetation. But those fire should not be lit in strong or gusty winds, and people need to be in attendance at the fire until it is extinguished.


Deputy principal rural fire officer Richard Terrey urged people to be careful with fire, particularly at the beach.

"People just need to be so careful," he said. "They don't realise how dry it is."

Nearly 30 millimetres of rain fell on Whanganui in the first four days of the year, but dry spells either side mean the fire danger is set at "very high".

"It was just water to the surface," Mr Terrey said. "It's still dusty underneath."

One week's notice is required for small fires (less than two hectares) with three weeks' notice for larger burns (equal to or greater than two hectares) to allow for inspections and the preparation of a burn plan.

For rural areas, fire inspections will be conducted on Thursdays and Fridays and permits will only be issued if it is deemed safe.

Meanwhile, more rain is forecast for tomorrow but about 50mm is needed before consideration would be given to lifting the restriction.

To apply for a free permit people can visit the Whanganui Fire Service at 87 Maria Place.

These restrictions will remain in force until further notice.