'Like the surface of Mars' - Hazy smoke over New Zealand like nothing seen before, witnesses say

Source: 1News

Thick smoke wafting over from the Australian bush fires is clogging New Zealand's skies, the haze turning the sun blood orange.

In Otago, Cardrona Alpine Resort was forced to shut down early yesterday because the mountain was coated in the ash.

"It was a bit like being on the surface of Mars," Cardrona operations manager Ewan Mackie told 1 NEWS.

"We were really in the thick of the ash and it was quite unpleasant really.

"People's eyes were watering a little bit, people were catching it in the throat and feeling a bit of a cough to the extent that we actually shut down the whole operation a little bit early yesterday."

Two experienced helicopter pilots from Queenstown told 1 NEWS it's like nothing they've ever seen before.

"We've never seen smoke like that before so it was pretty amazing that it's come all this way," Over The Top Helicopters' James Ford says.

Fellow pilot Louisa Patterson says in her whole flying career, she's never seen the ash come over from Australia like this.

"I've heard about it and seen it in the core samples of the glaciers, but this is the first time in reality that I've actually seen the ash in the air," she told 1 NEWS.

In Canterbury, the smoke is thick and blocking out the views locals are used to.

"I can see all the way through to the Kaikouras and all the way through to the [Southern] Alps," Christchurch man Richard Spicer told 1 NEWS.

"It's nuts really. The place is just covered in smoke, like it's completely everywhere."

For Australian tourists Marcus and Melissa Kurishingal, it's a grim reminder about what's waiting for them back home.

"I mean it's surprising that it's travelled all the way here. I just can't imagine what it's like back home."

The haze comes from deadly bushfires ravaging Australia, with soaring temperatures and blasting winds hampering firefighters' efforts to control it.