A Canterbury home has been destroyed after a fire ripped through land near the Malvern Hills this afternoon.
Selwyn District Council said the large fire had now been contained, but some smaller spot fires were still active in the area of about 60 hectares.
It said one house on Homebush Road had been destroyed, along with six outbuildings, including a hay barn.
Three others were threatened but had escaped any damage. Five people were being helped at an evacuation centre.
Fire Service said a change from strong north-westerly winds to south-west winds was expected later tonight and may help to reduce temperatures and the risk of more fires.
Hot, dry and extremely windy conditions in the region had made things difficult for firefighters.
Four fire appliances are at the fire, with one helicopter and two further helicopters are due to arrive.
Selwyn Rural Fire officer Douglas Marshall told Checkpoint with John Campbell there were 70 firefighters battling the blaze with the use of three helicopters.
Strong winds have spread the fire, which broke out about 5pm.
"It is incredibly windy at the moment and we are stretched in this area.
"We have evacuated about half a dozen homes and we have got an evacuation centre, welfare centre, set up at the Darfield Recreational Centre for those who wish for some sort of support."
Police are asking people to put off travelling west or south west of Darfield.
Strong winds spark fires
Strong winds across the South Island have fanned several other fires, including one near Kaikoura, started by a truck that caught alight.
The fire has closed the highway south of Kekerengu.
Helicopters are working to control the blaze.
Small vegetation fires have also broken out near Ashburton, with one fire in the region earlier this afternoon causing the closure of State Highway 1 and railway tracks near it.
BREAKING NEWS: Winds reaching hurricane force, over 120km/h, in Dunedin. Winds peak next few hours - easing o'night— WeatherWatch.co.nz (@WeatherWatchNZ) March 10, 2016
A fire along State Highway 1 between Hinds and Tinwald in Canterbury is causing visibility problems for drivers, and has forced trains to stop.
Another fire is burning deep underground near Lake Coleridge.
The Fire Service said staff were busy dealing with a number of calls to fires in several areas of South Canterbury.
Metservice has released severe wind weather warnings for Southland, the Fiordland Lakes, Otago, Canterbury, Marlborough Sounds, Wellington and Wairarapa.
A fire in Hanmer Springs which caused homes to be evacuated earlier this week has now been contained after flaring up this morning.