Chimney smoke and wood burners

You must ensure that you do not cause a smoke or odour nuisance outside your boundary.

Wood burners are a common means of heating many Northland homes. A correctly used modern wood burner will heat a home with few emissions. An older or poorly used wood burner can cause smoke and air pollution. This can cause adverse health effects for you and those around you.

Rules within Northland

  • Burning for heating is a permitted activity in Northland.
  • You must use the correct fuel for your burner. In most cases this is untreated wood.
  • You must not cause a smoke nuisance beyond your property boundary.

District Rules

Your local District Council also has rules around wood burners. Check with them any matters relating to wood burner standards, installation, and building codes.

How to reduce chimney smoke

Plan ahead: Stock up on wood 6-12 months before winter to ensure it has time to dry.

Stack well: Stack wood in a covered area and stack loosely to ensure air can pass through to help drying.

Burn it hot: Hot fires produce less smoke. Don’t dampen it down overnight or when you go out. A slow smoulder causes more smoke.

Don’t overload: Add wood slowly. Overloading the wood burner will cause more smoke.

Keep it clean: Clean your chimney every year.

Burn the right things: Only burn untreated wood and vegetation. Never burn rubbish, plastic, painted or treated wood, or glossy paper. These cause toxic smoke which is bad for your health and can damage your chimney.

Check your smoke: Go outside and see how much smoke is coming out of your chimney.

Upgrade: Newer wood burners create less emissions and burn cleaner. Check with your District Council about upgrading an old wood burner.

There should not be dark or smelly smoke drifting from your chimney.

More information about air quality rules

Our Proposed Regional Plan says what you can and what you can’t burn, what needs a resource consent and what is prohibited.

Go to the Proposed Regional Plan for Northland and information


Those found breaching regional rules may face enforcement action and this can include being issued with an instant fine of up to $1,000.