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Australia’s Fires Cause Smoke Haze Over Canterbury, New Zealand

As New Zealand experiences a fairly cool holiday season (it’s 2nd January 2020 and it’s raining in Rangiora, Canterbury, as I type this) Australia is experiencing record temperatures and one of the worst wildfires seen in decades.

On New Year’s day, while homes in Australia are evacuated and thousands of firefighters tackle the blaze, New Zealand itself starts to witness a side-effect of the disaster.

We woke up to a hazy sky, which I couldn’t quite believe was due to the fires 2,000km away until I saw a satellite image posted by Weather Watch.

So that evening, around 5:30pm, I headed out to the Northern Canterbury foothills to snap a few photos and help document the event.

For the record, there’s was no obvious fire-related smell experienced here, just a haze that resulted in an eerie orange tint to the sky.

In a very, very small way, it brought home the sheer size of the disaster taking place in Australia right now. Even the Port Hill fires that we had here in Christchurch didn’t cause as much of a blanket haze as these far-away fires have. It’s incredible to think what our friends in Australia are going through, and our hearts are with them.

Panorama of Cantebury farmland with Australian fires smoke haze
Orange-tinted sky caused by smoke haze from Australia's fires.

While I was taking the panoramic shot on my phone, I looked up and realised that a rabbit had decided to take centre stage.

Smokey haze over a rural Canterbury landscape
Photo of a Canterbury sheep farm with smokey haze from Australia's fires

The photos from my camera are unedited (other than the camera’s own .jpg processing), while the photos taken on my Samsung Galaxy S10 do have some editing applied automatically by the camera’s own scene editor. The orange effect is enhanced in those.

Keen to help the Australian services?

If you’re keen to help, Australia’s ABC News and the UK’s Guardian both have good articles on the best approach.

All our best wishes to our Australian friends. We’re thinking of you.

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On New Year's day, while homes in Australia are evacuated and thousands of firefighters tackle the blaze, New Zealand itself starts to witness a side-effect of the disaster.
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