NZ set for long, dry summer
A long hot summer is coming, and while that's good news for barbecues and backyard cricket, farmers and rural firefighters are preparing to battle drought and wildfires.
Forecasters predict this summer's El Nino weather pattern will be one of the top three or four driest on New Zealand record.
The previous three strongest El Ninos - 1972/73, 1982/83 and 1997/98 - all resulted in droughts.
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) are forecasting that this summer could be just as bad.
The worst hit areas will be the northern parts of the North Island and eastern areas of both islands.
"We think that this El Nino - and it's already very strong - has a distinct possibility of being a top three, top four El Nino," said Niwa forecaster Chris Brandolino.