Fire ban now in effect

A dry Wakatipu as seen from Coronet Peak last week. Photo by Christina McDonald.
A dry Wakatipu as seen from Coronet Peak last week. Photo by Christina McDonald.

It has been an ''odd'' summer.

A spin-off from this was a later-than-usual prohibited fire season, Department of Conservation Wakatipu rural fire officer Jamie Cowan said.

The prohibited fire season came into force from midnight on Friday and this year fireworks are specifically prohibited.

Mr Cowan said the definition of a fire in the Forest and Rural Fires Act was vague but most councils included fireworks and this year so had the Queenstown Lakes District Council.

''We have had several high-profile fires caused by fireworks,'' he said, including one about two years ago on Queenstown Hill.

Letting off fireworks during the prohibited season is now a prosecutable offence.

Most years, the prohibited fire season comes into force around Christmas.

However, rain had been a noticeable feature of the first months of summer in Queenstown Lakes.

''All that rain means that there's a lot of fuel around as it dries out,'' Mr Cowan said.

''There's a lot of growth,'' he said, referring to the long grass which had become a fire risk.

Wanaka was far drier than Queenstown, he said.

Gas or electric barbecues are permitted, as are cooking fires in approved, permanent, purpose-built surrounds. All other fires are illegal.

Fireworks may not be lit anywhere in the district during a prohibited fire season.