Water restrictions in parts of the mid- and Far-North have been reduced - but the drought is far from over.
The Far North District Council has lowered restrictions from level 4 to level 3 in Kaitaia and Paihia, which means households and businesses can now water gardens and wash cars, buildings and paved areas from a bucket.
Commercial car cleaners can also operate high-pressure and recycled water systems. A ban remains on the use of all outdoor hoses and irrigation systems. Filling swimming pools also remains completely banned.
In Paihia, Opua and Waitangi, level 3 restrictions have been reduced to level 2 to allow households and businesses connected to council supplies to use hand-held hoses to water gardens, and wash cars, buildings and paved areas. Swimming pools can also be filled from the mains supply, although a ban on automatic irrigation and sprinkler systems remains in place.
• Northland water crisis deepens, with restrictions tightened
• Tighter water restrictions for Whangārei as drought deepens
• Water restrictions Far North-wide as drought looms
• Tighter water restrictions for Kerikeri and Waipapa as drought deepens
Far North mayor John Carter said unique circumstances in Kaitaia and Paihia meant the burden of water restrictions could now be reduced.
"Kaitaia residents will be especially relieved that level 4 water restrictions can be relaxed. This is possible due to increased and consistent water flows in the Awanui River.
"Our supplementary ground water source at Bonnett Rd is also operating well, and we are confident Kaitaia's supply can be maintained uninterrupted."
But Carter said reduced restrictions did not mean the drought was over.
He said recent rainfall has reduced demand in Paihia, especially from bulk water carriers, taking pressure off the water treatment plant.
Whangārei has level 3 water restrictions and Kaipara level 4.
Kaipara District Council's waters and waste manager Donnick Mugusto advises residents to treat water like gold.
Mugusto and his team have been monitoring water levels across Kaipara, and says they are still critically low, despite some rain over the past few days.
"The rain we've had is only surface deep and we're still in one of the most severe droughts on record.
"We're encouraging people to take shorter showers, turn taps off while brushing their teeth and insert a bottle in their toilet cistern to reduce the amount of water flushed down the drain."
Periods of heavy rain have been followed by dry conditions and cold southerlies. Much more rain will be needed this winter to get Kaipara back to healthy waterway levels.
Baldrock Dam, a supplementary source of water on the east coast is at the lowest the water team has seen, and the Kaihu River, where the main Dargaville supply is drawn, quickly drops back to drought levels after rain.
The council is already urging people to think ahead to next summer and consider their water storage options to protect against possible acute water shortages again next year.
According to the Northland Regional Council, river flows for this year are tracking 40 to 47 per cent below normal levels across all the main centres in Northland.