A New Year’s Eve of fires burns into the morning

Fires are still burning in Tasman, Otago and Auckland on New Years Day, after a New Year’s Eve of fires around the country, many caused by fireworks and bonfires.

Helicopters were brought in to help control fires in Marahau in the Tasman District and Aramoana, Otago early Sunday morning. And fire crews were still in attendance at a fire in Mahurangi East, Auckland.

Overnight, Fire and Emergency NZ (Fenz) said the organization’s three communications centers fielded 111 calls regarding multiple incidents.

A total number has not yet been tallied, but at any one time there were up to 15 incidents being dealt with simultaneously, FENZ said.

Some fires were extinguished overnight. Reports had tailed off in the early hours on New Year’s Day, but at 2am there were still seven responses related to New Year’s Eve activities under way.

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Nine crews were working on the Marahau, Tasman District fire at 2.30am.


Nine crews were working on the Marahau, Tasman District fire at 2.30am.

Fires in the South Island

A fire at Marahau in the Tasman District saw two homes evacuated. Nine crews were working on the fire at 2:30am.

Firefighters were working to protect houses from the vegetation fire.

Just after 6.30 Sunday morning there was one helicopter and ground crews tackling the fire, Fenz said.

A fire at Marahau in the Tasman District.  A Stuff reader took this photo from the Barn Campsite near the start of the Abel Tasman track overnight.


A fire at Marahau in the Tasman District. A Stuff reader took this photo from the Barn Campsite near the start of the Abel Tasman track overnight.

At Aramoana, near Dunedin, five fire crews were at the scene of a fire burning on a cliff face at 2:30am. It was reported to be about the size of a football field, and growing.

A helicopter joined the effort just after 6.30am Sunday.

A large blaze at Dalefield, near Arrowtown, was reportedly started by fireworks. It involved three separate fires burning in tussock on steep terrain, FENZ said overnight. As of 2:30am the fire had been contained to an estimated 1.2ha, with firefighters working to reinforce the perimeter. Fire crews had knocked out hotspots and were monitoring the situation on Sunday morning, Fenz said.

A fire at the old school site at Skippers Reserve, near Queenstown, was extinguished by people camping in the area. It has been checked by FENZ personnel. Many campers reportedly left the area due to the fire.

A fire lit up a hillside in Wellington's Oriental Bay on New Year's Eve.


A fire lit up a hillside in Wellington’s Oriental Bay on New Year’s Eve.

Fires in the North Island

There have been multiple fires in the North Island too.

FENZ said the most serious northern incident was a scrub fire started by fireworks at Mahurangi East. Six crews had been working since 11pm on New Year’s Eve to keep the fire from reaching homes. Four crews were still in attendance after daybreak.

FENZ shift manager Paul Radden​ said the fire was contained but not extinguished, at 7.30am.

There were eight crews dealing with a large blaze at Puhoi at 1:30am. Most of the firefighters had to reach the firefront on foot as fire trucks could not drive to the site. The blaze was controlled and there were no fire crews at Puhoi later on Sunday morning.

In Tauranga, three crews were called to deal with a fire in the roof of a house, reportedly started by fireworks.

There were two fires in Palmerston North. One was on the roof of the civic administration building and another was where seats in Edwards Pit park were on fire. Both were reportedly caused by fireworks.

There was also a fire close to a house in Kelston and a grass fire in New Plymouth, which were both reportedly caused by fireworks, FENZ said, as well as a fire in the sand dunes at Waitarere Beach, Horowhenua.

Fenz said there were no fires active in the region just after 6.30am Sunday.

Two fire trucks were working at a house fire in Flaxmere, Hastings on Sunday morning.

Earlier, Wellington saw in 2023 with two fires – one of which lit up the hillside above Oriental Bay.

The first fire was at a commercial premises in an industrial area of ​​Wakefield St, Lower Hutt at 11.07pm on New Year’s Eve, a Fire & Emergency (FENZ) spokesperson said.

Fire investigators would look into the cause.

Then there was a scrub fire above Wellington’s Oriental Bay at 11.35pm. It sputtered out by 12.15am.

Communications Center Shift Manager Murray Dunbar said the number and scale of incidents overnight reinforced that fireworks posed a high fire risk and had to be used responsibly and sensibly.

“Fire and Emergency has been saying this for a long time. People using fireworks have to look at the conditions – things like wind and the proximity to material that can catch fire easily. If the conditions aren’t right, then don’t light.”

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