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Auckland police are asking residents not to call the 111 emergency line to report the orange haze caused by the Australian bush fires.

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Auckland police are asking residents not to call the 111 emergency line to report the orange haze caused by the Australian bush fires.

Police said they are receiving a high number of calls, but although the sky may be causing concern, it is not a police emergency.

The Transport Agency is warning holiday makers returning home to and from Auckland to drive safely, and not be distracted by the orange sky.

Heavy traffic is expected in Auckland as congestion continues to build on the roads.

An agency spokesperson said the sky is a lot darker than usual at this time, and suggests drivers turn their lights on and stay focused on the road to avoid any accidents.

MetService said a large plume of smoke had been blown across the Tasman by a strong north-west wind and it is expected to continue drifting across the North Island until later tonight.

The forecaster said the smoke may also be visible in the south but would be denser over the North Island.

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A screenshot of Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour taken from a central web camera at around 3pm this afternoon.

On social media, Aucklanders are describing the haze as weird and eerie.

View image on Twitter

MetService said a south-west wind coming in behind will start diverting the smoke back over the Tasman Sea.

Skies will be starting to turn orange in the North Island as bushfire smoke moves across.

View image on Twitter

Smoke from the fires currently raging in several states of Australia covered parts of the South Island on New Year’s Day, including Fox Glacier which received a dusting of ash.

Some residents described a smell like “extinguished campfires”.

The following day the smoke also affected skies in the North Island.

The Auckland sky hazy from the fires burning in Australia on 5 January 2020, as seen from RNZ's Auckland office.

Earlier MetService forecaster, Sonja Farmer, predicted that today’s smoke would not be as thick as previous plumes.

“This time it’s fairly fast-moving in comparison and it’s followed by south-westerlies coming in behind as the front goes through, so there will be some smoke around but it may not be around for too long because the other wind is coming behind.

“The other south-west flow will start diverting it back into the Tasman.”

By mid-morning, MetService tweeted that the smoke was “making haste across the Tasman, driven by an upper level jet of westerly winds”.

Niwa said the densest portion of the smoke will move over the North Island.

NIWA Weather@NiwaWeather

Today’s satellite loop shows another plume of smoke crossing the Tasman Sea from Australia.

Look for smoke to once again appear in NZ’s skies on Sunday.

Unlike a couple of days ago, however, this time the densest portion of the plume is expected to move over the North Island.

Asthma sufferers urged to be prepared

Asthmatic New Zealanders concerned about the impact of smoke coming from the Australian fires are being told to check their inhalers and see their GP.

A lot of people in town just looking up at the sky right now

View image on Twitter

Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ has seen a spike in inquires around the safety of smoke and what it means for breathing as the Australian fires continue to bring plumes of smoke to this country.

Chief executive Letitia Harding said she hasn’t had any reports of people suffering from the smoke but said it’s an opportunity to top up inhalers and be prepared.

“To check that their inhalers are full and not empty and also they’re not expired.

“And just to be really aware of any tightness in the chest or shortness of breath. Any smokier conditions will exacerbate symptoms,” Harding said.

An Auckland bus with its lights on during the day as an orange haze from Australia's bushfires hangs over the city.

An Auckland bus with its lights on during the day as an orange haze from Australia’s bushfires hangs over the city. 

Strong winds spreading up the country

MetService is expecting west to southwest gales gusting to 120km/hr to buffet Southland, Clutha and Stewart Island today.

MetService@MetService

West to southwest gales gusting to 120 km/hr are forecast for coastal Southland and Clutha, and for Stewart Island. Gale or severe gale northwest winds gusting to 120km/hr are expected ahead of a front moving up the country today.

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The winds are already being felt in parts of the South Island, it says, and will affect inland parts of Canterbury and exposed parts of the North island’s east coast south of Hastings later today.

Strong winds battering parts of the country today, have the potential to damage trees, powerlines and make driving hazardous.

MetService says a deep low lies to the south of the country and it is moving north across southern and central New Zealand.

The strongest winds are likely to affect coastal Southland, Clutha and Dunedin tomorrow, with unseasonably cold severe southwest gales expected.

Meterologist David Miller said it would also be blustery further north.

“Lower parts of the North Island including Tararua district, Hawke’s Bay south of Napier, Wellington, Wairarapa. We’re expecting to see some gales up to 120km/h, that’s until tonight.”

Miller said it would be dangerous on the roads in many areas for motorcyclists and high-sided vehicles over the next few days.

View image on Twitter

Temperatures are expected to be much cooler than usual for this time of year today with Dunedin, Queenstown and Timaru reaching just 11 degrees Celsius.

Source: Met services

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