New Zealand Glaciers Turn Brown From Australian Bushfire Smoke, Ash And Dust

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 02 Jan 2020 13:43
Smoke From Australia's Bushfires Start To Cloud New ZealandPA

Bushfires have been ravaging parts of Australia over the past three months, killing thousands of animals and destroying peoples homes, and now the fires are affecting neighbouring country New Zealand. 

The huge bushfires have caused a smokey, caramel haze in New Zealand with some people claiming they can even smell the smoke too.


New Zealand’s official weather service, MetService, took to Twitter to warn residents of the smoke.

Firefighter And Rescued Koala Watch Helplessly As Raging Bushfire Destroys Its HomeEden Hills Country Fire Service/Facebook

MetService’s tweet read:

Smoke which has travelled around 2,000km across the Tasman Sea can clearly be seen over the lower South Island. Visibility in the smoke haze is as low as 10km in the worst affected areas. Southwesterlies are expected to gradually flush the smoke laden air away from late today


While the smoke has begun to ease, yesterday, January 1, it was extremely heavy. One woman shared a video she took at the top of the Tasman Glacier.

Her tweet said:

This the view from the top of the Tasman Glacier NZ today – whole South island experiencing bushfire clouds. We can actually smell the burning here in Christchurch. Thinking of you guys.


The smoke has turned the usually white snow beige, making it appear sand-like, proving the affects the smoke is having on New Zealand.

Andrew Mackintosh, an expert on glaciers and climate at Monash University in Melbourne, told The Australian the dust from the bushfires could increase glacier melt in New Zealand by as much as 30%. The island nation has more than 3,000 glaciers, and there are worries the ash will speed up their melting. ‘If it stays on the surface then it will certainly enhance melt. If fire frequency, ash and dust transport increase, there is a chance that this will hasten the demise of New Zealand glaciers,’ Mackintosh said.

While some dust being carried across the Tasman is common, Mackintosh said he had never seen such a large quantity as this.


Auckland resident Ena Hutchinson told BBC News

The air doesn’t smell in Auckland, but the sunrise and morning light was eerie.

There was a strange, golden glow on the sea, the sky was cloudy, and when the sun broke through it was orange.

It’s certainly not something that’s happened like this before – virtually blanketing the South Island and now heading northwards today.

Another person took to Twitter on December 31 to show the dramatic difference a day makes:


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Fortunately, the smoke is said to be easing over the coming days, which will hopefully make breathing quality better for residents in New Zealand.

In Australia, however, bushfires have caused Australia’s sky to turn red, giving the country an apocalyptic feel.

The horrifying glow meant 4,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes and shelter on a beach in Mallacoota, a holiday town in the East Gippsland district. It is estimated around 4,000 more were taking shelter in community shelters around the town.

According to recent reports, it’s thought that almost half a billion mammals, reptiles, birds and insects have been killed in Australia’s bushfires, which have been ongoing for months.

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: News, Australian Bushfires, Bushfire, New Zealand, weather


BBC and 2 others
  1. BBC

    Australia fires: Smoke turns New Zealand skies 'eerie' yellow

  2. The Telegraph

    Smoke from Australia's bushfires shrouds New Zealand as glaciers turn brown

  3. The Australian

    Bushfires: Ash from Australia threatens NZ glaciers