Alarmed New Zealanders are phoning emergency services to report a glowing orange sky as smoke drifts across the Tasman Sea from Australia’s bushfires.
NZ Police on Sunday asked people to stop calling the national emergency line to report the haze.
“Police is asking people not to call the 111 emergency number to report the orange haze in the sky caused by the Australian bushfires. We are currently receiving high numbers of calls related to this,” the force said in a statement on Sunday.
The national weather bureau confirmed the phenomenon over NZ’s North Island.
“Smoke from the Australian bushfires is making haste across the Tasman, driven by an upper-level jet of westerly winds,” MetService tweeted.
A number of Twitter users shared photos and videos of the smoke.
Weather Watch NZ said it was an “unprecedented” plume that was was expected to peak overnight on the upper North Island.
Monash University experts reported that glaciers in NZ have turned brown after being exposed to the smoke, dust and ash which has drifted from Australia.
While the smoke has panicked some Kiwis, the level of air pollution is nowhere near as bad as Australia’s south east.
The smoke in Canberra has caused shops, institutions and public facilities to close, with the CBD shopping centre the latest to shut shop on Sunday.
All Qantas flights out of Canberra Airport were cancelled on Sunday, but other airlines continued to operate.
The federal government has accessed its medical stockpiles to supply P2 face masks to the ACT and Victoria.
NZ Defence Minister on Sunday confirmed the nation would send military support to aid bushfire management.
The assistance will include personnel and three NZ Air Force helicopters.
The contingent will deploy to Royal Australian Air Force Base Edinburgh, in Adelaide, and will remain in Australia at least until the end of January, minister Ron Mark said.