Farmers in bone-dry parts of the country face a wait for government assistance, with no formal declaration of drought yet.
Farms in many parts of the country, including Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Manawatu, Canterbury and Hawke's Bay, are running dry after a hot summer, and some are asking for drought assistance.
Last week, Waikato Regional Council formed a drought committee, but it is holding off on a formal drought declaration, while farmers in Northland are expected to meet on Monday to consider whether they will request help.
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says he and the ministry are closely monitoring the situation.
"Dry conditions are making life very tough for many farmers around the North Island. I'm a dairy farmer myself and I know how challenging it can be," he said in a statement to NZ Newswire.
"No area has reached the official threshold of drought yet, but we are not far off."
If the government declares a drought, there will be support measures available through Inland Revenue and Work and Income.
"The next few weeks are going to be crucial. Farmers badly need some decent rain to get them through autumn and into winter," Mr Guy said.
The Metservice is forecasting rain for eastern parts of the North Island on Thursday and Friday.