20 Apr 2015

Close eye on parched North Canterbury

7:14 pm on 20 April 2015

The Government will be keeping a close watch on conditions in North Canterbury which is now the most drought-affected part of the country.

There has been some rain relief in mid and south Canterbury and other parts of the South Island which were officially recognised as being in drought, but North Canterbury has seen very little of that rain.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy saw first hand how dry it was when he attended the Future of Heartland Forum in the region last week.

Nathan Guy

Nathan Guy Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

He acknowledged the pressure on farmers there, with time rapidly running out for any pasture or crop growth and farmers being forced to keep reducing stock numbers as winter approaches.

"They are struggling. In fact its probably the driest there for about 70 years over the three months of the summer. Kaikoura for the nine months is down to about half its average rainfall, so here's a pocket of the country on the east coast of the South Island that has missed out on significant rain," he said.

"I hope that it does rain soon. They are very optimistic. They believe if they get rain in the next week or two, that they've got enough time to turn around before the winter, but of course every day we're getting a day closer to the winter and that is a real concern for them."

The Government will continue to monitor conditions in North Canterbury through the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Rural Support Trust.