Firefighters are urging Kiwis to be cautious next week, with high and extreme fire danger expected for many regions across New Zealand.

These areas include Central Otago, the Mackenzie Basin, South Canterbury’s high country, Canterbury, Marlborough, Wairarapa, Northland and Auckland.

Wildfire manager Tim Mitchell said a warm air mass from Australia is expected to pass over the country next week, bringing “very warm” temperatures and gusty winds.

“These conditions will drive up the fire risk, particularly on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, especially in those areas which are already dry and experiencing elevated fire danger.

“Fires in these conditions will start quickly, spread quickly, and pose a threat to life and property.”

Several areas already have restricted or prohibited fire seasons in place.

Activities such as mowing, operating machinery, cutting, or welding steel, if done in or near long dry grass, can be hazardous and should be carried out during cooler parts of the day, said Mitchell.

“Devices that use heat such as barbecues, fish smokers, and gas cookers have controls around where and how they can be used, depending on the area you live.”

Mitchell urged people living in other areas of the country not to be complacent.

“The public needs to understand that lower risk doesn’t mean no risk. Even smaller wildfires can have a significant impact on communities.

“Don’t be that person who ignores the advice and starts a damaging wildfire.”

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