Backyard burning


Burning some materials creates smoke that can affect your health.  That’s why we get involved with backyard burning and waste fires.


Tiny particles in the smoke can go deep into your lungs. These can hold nasty chemicals that may cause breathing problems like asthma.


Smoke and fumes from things like plastics can be especially nasty, some release cancer-causing chemicals.


Children, the elderly and those with breathing problems are most harmed by poor air quality. 

What are the rules?

It’s illegal for people to create a smoke nuisance.  They can be hit with an instant fine of up to $1000.


Our Air Quality Plan says what you can and what you can’t burn.  There are a lot of things that are illegal to burn, like rubber (including tyres), hazardous substances or their containers, oil, coated metal cable, vehicle parts and timber treated with copper, chrome and arsenic.


You’re not allowed to burn plastic agrichemical containers and any halogenated plastic products like PVC pipes.


Paper, cardboard and untreated timber can be burned on trade and industrial premises if the fire is contained in an incinerator.  The smoke must not cause a nuisance to any neighbours. Other waste cannot be burned on industrial sites without resource consent.


Inside Whāngārei airshed boundaries (see map)


Rules within Whāngārei City

People living within the Whāngārei city airshed area can only burn waste if:

  • They hold a resource consent; or
  • Their property is larger than one hectare (but burning isn't allowed during June, July and August as still, calm winter conditions can cause smoke to linger).


Burning for food cooking purposes using barbeques, hangi, umu and using wood-fired kilns is allowed as long as no offensive or objectionable smoke or odour occurs beyond the property boundary.


The Whāngārei city airshed area includes most of Kamo, Tikipunga, Kensington, Morningside, Central Whāngārei, Otangarei, Raumanga, Maunu and Onerahi. 

Rules in the wider region

Residents outside of Whāngārei city can have outside fires as long as the fire does not cause offensive or objectionable smoke or odour to neighbouring residents or obscure vision along public roads.


If you are planning to burn rubbish, consider your neighbours and the environment.  Follow these guidelines:

  • Talk to your neighbours first, and light the fire at an agreed time - eg when they are going to be away for the day.
  • Make sure the wind is blowing in the direction where the smoke will cause the least bother.
  • Don't burn green plants – let them dry out and turn brown first.
  • Don't burn plastics, rubber, old clothes or other things that may make nasty smoke.
  • Make sure that the stuff to be burnt is dry - damp fires generate smoke.
  • Use an incinerator; even a large drum with an air hole cut out of the bottom will help the fire burn more cleanly.

Fire permits and how to get one 

Whāngārei and Kaipara Districts
Contact Forest Protection Services – Telephone 09 430 7707 for Whāngārei and Kaipara Districts or visit the following website:

Far North District
This is administered by the Northern Rural Fire Authority.

You can apply for permits at or by calling 09 4010723

Close to Department of Conservation Land?
If you are within one kilometre of a Department of Conservation (DOC) reserve or plantation forest, you may also require a permit. Contact your local DOC office for more information.

Alternatives to burning

There are lots of ways you can dispose of your waste without burning it. You can:

  • Recycle plastics, paper, glass and tins by placing them in your recycle bin or take them to your local recycling centre.
  • Compost garden waste including clippings, trimmings, small branches and leaves.
  • Mulch larger branches (up to 30cm in diameter) using a chipper or shredder and add to your garden as a soil conditioner. 
  • Use a worm farm to dispose of vegetable peelings and food scraps.
  • Dispose of household refuse in rubbish bags as part of your weekly roadside collection service.
  • Take larger quantities of refuse to a transfer station for disposal.
  • Larger branches and logs can be cut to size and used as firewood during the winter in an internal domestic fireplace.
  • Hire a mini-skip and place your waste material in the skip for removal.
  • Waste that may be of use to someone else can be registered on the waste exchange website:

Find out more about waste disposal alternatives:

Fire bans

Backyard burning is usually a seasonal problem that gets worse during spring and autumn.  In spring and autumn more people get into their gardens and burn unwanted garden waste. Just prior to summer people often try to get a burn in before possible fire bans.  When a fire ban is in force, contact your local District Council for information before you light an outdoor fire.

  • Far North District Council - phone 0800 920 029
  • Kaipara District Council - phone 0800 727 059
  • Whangarei District Council - phone 0800 932 463

Bothered by smoke from a fire?

Ask the person who lit it to put it out.


If they won’t and the trouble continues, please call our 24/7 Environment Hotline 0800 504 639.