Cape Reinga’s culturally significant and well-photographed lighthouse is being protected from a 400ha scrub fire thanks to wind direction.
Helicopters and ground crews returned to the fire site on Thursday morning to battle the blaze in highly flammable scrub.
However, on Thursday morning offshore winds were favourable for protecting the iconic site, he said.
“If the wind is to turn back in that direction, it will be a concern.”
About 40 ground crews have been flown into the fire site early on Thursday, as the steep terrain has no roads and is inaccessible even to four-wheel-drives and quads, Renwick said.
Seven helicopters with monsoon buckets will also work with the firefighters on the ground.
State Highway 1 remains closed in both directions but Renwick said that is being reviewed.
The hardest part of the fire is its large perimeter, with the 400ha fire area burnt in a patchy way creating a large perimetre of around 12km, he said.
“At this stage, it’s a slog. There’s a lot of ground to cover,” he said.
“We’re focusing on the edge where there’s unburnt fuel but because the edge is so long, we’ve got a lot of work to do in the coming days.”
The fire is through highly flammable manuka, kanuka and gorse – all of which can burn even when there is no drought, Renwick said.
Cape Reinga/Te Rerenga Wairua is a place of cultural, environmental and recreational significance, especially to Ngāti Kuri iwi who alerted firefighters to the blaze and had been proactive in firefighting efforts.
It is known by Māori as the place where spirits last set foot on the Land of the Long White Cloud before making their way to their ancestral homeland of Hawaiki.
Fire and Emergency’s Northland district manager Wipari Henwood said the fire broke out near a walking track and an investigator would look at the cause.
The area is under a restricted fire season.