The parched North Island won't see rain for at least a week
as hot, dry weather continues to dominate in what has been
described as one of the worst droughts since the 1940s.
Farmers say they are set to lose a third of their incomes and
the $1 billion cost to the economy so far is rising every
The MetService says it will remain dry over most of the
country next week but there is a glimmer of hope, with the
chance of rain next weekend.
Forecaster Gerard Barrow said a low was forming in the Tasman
Sea, but it was too early to know if it would track across
"To say that rain could come to drought-stricken areas -
we're not in a position to give people that sort of hope just
Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills, a Hawkes Bay sheep
and cattle farmer, said the cost to the economy was
increasing day by day.
ANZ has estimated the cost to the economy at $1 billion,
which could blow out in the coming months, Mr Wills said.
"The cost to the economy is hard to say because it is growing
more day by day that it doesn't rain.
"There has not been a drought like this in Hawkes Bay since
1952 and that is 60 years ago.
"It is difficult to put a cost on the whole drought for the
farmers and the economy but it is going up everyday, we just
don't know when it is going to rain."
Climate change expert Dr Jim Salinger said the North Island
had not experienced a drought so severe for 70 years.
In the season to February 28, the North Island lost 362mm of
moisture from the soil through evaporation - making it a far
drier season than the 1945/46 season which recorded 361mm for
the entire season from July 1945 to June 1946, Dr Salinger
Mr Wills agreed with Dr Salinger's assessment.
"It seems about right when you consider the worst drought in
Hawkes Bay," he said.
"The drought in 2007 and 2009 was bad and the cost to the
economy amounted to $2.8 billion. It's not up there yet but
we simply don't know when it is going to rain."
Mr Wills said the drought was going to cost him about a third
of his income.
Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Hawkes Bay
have all been officially declared drought zones and farmers
from Manawatu-Rangitikei, Wairarapa and Taranaki hope to
follow suit next week so they can have access to government
Mr Wills said the South Island was in better shape than the
North Island because it was getting more rain and "hopefully
it will stay that way".
And Dr Salinger said while the South Island was dry, he did
not anticipate any of the regions would be declared
"This is definitely a North Island event."
WeatherWatch.co.nz forecaster Philip Duncan also predicted a
dry week ahead but said hope was on the horizon.
"It's looking pretty dry next week...but the high that's
bringing us this dry weather looks like it has a challenge
for the first time in months and that's from the tropics."
He said four low pressure systems and a tropical cyclone were
starting to build up and develop.
"By next weekend we hope it will start to be more of a
challenge for the dry weather."
It depended on the weakness of the high that was sitting over
the country at the moment as to how far south the rain would
go, Mr Duncan said.
Public 'Farming in Drought' farm days in Wellington, Rotorua
and Tauranga are being held to show how farms are coping with
Federated Farmers Wairarapa provincial president Jamie
Falloon said they felt the public would want to know more
about the situation.
"Drought is a huge challenge to any farmer...we want to show
our public what we do with everything from pasture right
through to animal welfare."
- Rebecca Quilliam and Melissa Hills of APNZ