Drought conditions have been officially declared on the east coast of New Zealand's South Island.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today classed the drought conditions as being a "medium-scale adverse event".

Minister Guy made the announcement today (Thursday) at Opuha Dam, South Canterbury, which without rainfall over the next couple of weeks, will run dry.

He said the drought is a recognition of the extreme dry conditions farmers and growers are facing.

The conditions have been monitored over the past several months by the Ministry for Primary Industries, however, as the season changes conditions will become tougher for farmers in the affected areas.

Minister Guy said that extra government funding will be available to Rural Supports Trusts who support and assist farmers.

“Rural Assistance Payments (RAPs) will also be made available in the next few months. These will be available from Work and Income, through the Ministry of Social Development. They are equivalent to the Jobseeker Support benefit and are available to those in extreme hardship.

“It’s important to note that support is already available from Government agencies in all regions. Farmers should contact Inland Revenue (IRD) if they need help or flexibility with making tax payments, and standard hardship assistance is available from Work and Income," he said.

The areas affected cover parts of Otago, Canterbury and the Marlborough District.

The Ministry for Primary Industries is also monitoring Wairarapa and southern Hawkes Bay where very dry conditions are an issue.