Weekend weather better for farmers than fans

The weekend ahead is looking good for farmers but potentially disruptive for cricket fans, forecasters say.

WeatherWatch.co.nz head analyst Philip Duncan said a few small showers were expected to move across the country, hitting the driest parts of New Zealand from late tonight through to Sunday.

"This means many parts of Otago, Canterbury, Marlborough and the Wairarapa will see some small relief from their current plights though it won't be major -- at least it's something," he said.

Christchurch, where the first match of the ICC Cricket World Cup is being played tomorrow, had a 20 to 25 per cent chance of drizzle or light showers over the next few days, Mr Duncan said.

"I'm not sure how a Canterbury farmer who needs rain but loves cricket would feel about the forecast, but in any case, the weather never pleases everyone!"

Meanwhile, an east to southeast windflow meant western areas of the North Island would be hot and dry -- a pattern that was set to continue for the medium-term future, Mr Duncan said.

"Places like Taranaki, King Country, and the Waikato are looking hot and dry... apart from a front moving on to the West Coast of the South Island next week, it's looking dry for a while.

"The next chance of rain is looking like the end of February, or even the start of March -- otherwise it looks like the dry start to the year is set to continue."

Yesterday, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy declared Canterbury and a fair chunk of the east coast of the South Island were officially in drought following what has been called the most sustained big dry in 43 years.

The declaration releases $200,000 to help Rural Support Trusts assist stricken farmers and includes tax flexibility measures through the Inland Revenue Department.

- Catherine Gaffaney

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