Many of 3000 people forced from their homes by one of New Zealand's worst forest fires in decades are set to make their way back.
After a nearly week-long battle to halt a 2300-hectare blaze creeping towards the South Island town of Wakefield, civil defence authorities on Monday announced evacuated residents would be allowed to return in the evening.
Some 150 firefighters, 23 helicopters and two planes spent the weekend trying to slow the flames and favourable weather conditions had allowed them to reduce the danger, Civil Defence incident controller Roger Ball said.
“This decision does not mean the fire is out. Nor is it controlled," he said.
"Firefighters will continue to be in the field for weeks, if not months."
Residents were warned they may need to flee again if conditions worsened, while 400 people in nearby areas still considered dangerous would have to continue to wait.
New Zealand has in the past experienced significant scrub and grassland fires but this month's blaze is reported to be the biggest to tear through forest land since 1955.
No deaths or serious injuries have been reported, but one house burned down.
The fire is believed to have started at a nearby farm on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described it as "unique and intense" while announcing funding to help residents on Monday.
Firefighters also contained several other fires that broke out in the region during the week amid drought-like conditions.