Glaciers in New Zealand blanketed by thick smoke haze from Australia’s bushfires

01 January 2019

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NEW ZEALAND/AUSTRALIA – Thick smoke from Australia’s ongoing bushfire crisis has made its way to New Zealand, with images showing once pristine white glaciers blanketed by a haze.

Rey, an Australian woman living in Wellington, took photographs of the “caramelised snow” caused by the dust near the Franz Josef Glacier on the South Island.

She told she and her sister, whom she was travelling with, were “devastated” by the news coming out of the ongoing crisis.

“We had already been in tears over the situation in Mallacoota earlier in the day so we were already pretty wrecked emotionally,” she said.

“Also, in the face of the drastic evidence of the glacial retreat, the tainted snow felt like just one more horror perpetrated by human beings against the planet.”

Footage taken from New Zealand’s largest glacier, the mighty Haupapa/Tasman Glacier by guide Andy Hoare showed a thick smoke haze drastically reducing visibility.

Andy’s mother, who shared the vision with, said she could “actually smell the burning here in Christchurch”.

Smoke blankets Australian capital

Smoke is also blanketing Canberra, making the Australian capital the worst major city in the world in terms of air quality.

A global air quality index ranked Canberra’s air worse than New Delhi, India or Lahore, Pakistan.

But conditions had been worse in the NSW coastal town of Bateman’s Bay, which has been besieged by fires in recent days, rating nearly twice as bad as Canberra earlier on Wednesday.

Air quality in Canberra is more than 10 times hazardous levels according to local health authorities, having peaked at more than 20 times hazardous levels on Wednesday.

The smoke is expected to linger over the capital in the coming days, with the Bureau of Meteorology saying high temperatures were trapping the smog there.

There are out of control fires burning near Kosciuszko National Park to Canberra’s west, and the fires along the coast to the east.

Bureau forecaster Abrar Shabren said this meant whatever the wind change, smoke would still be blown across the territory.

“It will persist over the next couple of days. We will see a change probably tomorrow,” he said.

Hazardous levels are normally considered 200 or above, with air quality stations around Canberra recording levels between 2300 to 2800.

With AAP

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