Heavy rain has put an end to New Zealand’s most widespread drought in 30 years. Farmers here welcomed the downpours over the weekend, but despite the rain, much of New Zealand expects to keep a drought declaration in place until September.
The heavy rain set in on Saturday and most of the country has seen heavy and persistent rainfall for the last three days. The city of Tauranga was soaked with over 210mm of rain over the weekend, which caused some flooding.
The drought began in December and gradually extended right across the North Island. Farmers estimate losses approaching two billion New Zealand Dollars (US $1.7B) in export earnings after they were forced to reduce their herds and cut back on milk production. This amounts to around one per cent of the economy.
Global dairy prices have risen over the past six weeks, partly in response to the drought. The rain does provide some relief to dairy farmers who are now busy planting grass seed to try to take advantage of the rain.
The financial effects are likely to be felt for at least another year and government officials have kept in place an official drought designation. This will allow farmers to continue receiving temporary financial assistance.
The rain is now easing and we expect the week ahead to be one of sunshine and showers. The heaviest showers will be along the western side of the country. Drier weather should set in once again as we head towards the weekend.