February brought above average rainfall for Whanganui and the hottest temperature since records began.
However, the rain provided little respite with soils continuing to dry out.
On February 4, when a slab of warm air arrived on a northwest wind, Niwa recorded Whanganui's hottest temperature since records began in 1937 - 31.6C.
Waiouru hit a high of 28.6C, and in Ohakune the average maximum air temperature was 3.9C higher than the February average since 1962.
In Whanganui the average temperature across day and night for the month was 18.9C, MetService meteorologist Mmathapelo Makgabutlane said. That's 0.7C above the long-term average.
New Zealand hasn't had a month with below average temperatures since January 2017, Niwa said.
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Whanganui got a total of 4.4mm of rain in January, and a lot of drying wind. In February we had 54mm of rain. That's more than the 40mm average for February, and most of it fell in one day on February 22.
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The rain was patchy though - other areas weren't so lucky and after a brief respite soils continued drying out.
Inland there was even less rain - with Waiouru receiving just 24.2mm, less than half its February average. Last week the Hautapu River hadn't had any rain for 100 days, Horizons Regional Council environmental data manager Brent Watson said.
Whanganui is in drought, and in early March Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor declared a medium-scale adverse event in Whanganui, Rangitīkei, Tararua and Gisborne. The declaration allows the IRD to give extra consideration to affected farmers, and makes $150,000 available to rural support trusts.
The drought is not as severe as that in 2011, but is at a similar level to 2018, a Niwa graph shows.
There are town water restrictions in Raetihi, Ohakune, Marton and Taihape as well as 69 Horizons water consents under restriction, and probably more to come.
Water is still available for stock and people in rural towns, and Whanganui's artesian water supply is unaffected.