Our air

Northland is noted for its clear skies and fantastic fresh air.

Great air quality; why?

The quality of the air in Northland is very high because:

  • the south-westerly winds quickly move the air around;
  • the people are spread out across the region;
  • our vehicles are spread out across the region; and
  • there’s not a lot of heavy industry in Northland.

What pollutes the air?

‘Air pollution’ is anything in the air that we don’t want there.  Usually we don’t want it there because it affects our health or the environment in which we live.  Common causes of air pollution in Northland are:

  • smoke from fires;
  • dust from gravel roads;
  • discharge from factories; and
  • spraying agrichemicals and fertiliser.

Home fires
Although we live in the ‘winterless north’ lots of us use open fires to heat our homes in winter.  Many homes have older wood burners that are less efficient and produce more smoke than modern wood burners.  Burning off waste outdoors also contributes to air pollution.

An agrichemical is any substance used to control plants, insects or animals.  It can be man-made or naturally occurring.  If you are applying more than a knapsack sprayer or a non-motorised handgun sprayer you need to be GROWSAFE certified.

Our role

Our role is to keep Northland’s high standard of air quality.

The plan is to have Northlanders make smart choices to keep their air clean. We want to have less backyard burning and fewer incidents involving pesticide use happening in Northland.

Maintaining our air quality

We have a variety of roles when it comes to caring for Northland’s air quality. These include:

Preventing air pollution

We provide rules and regulations that are designed to help keep Northland’s air clean. This includes managing issues such as:

We know that quite often it’s one-off things that cause air pollution - like having a fire after a garden clean up. So the best way to reduce these things happening is to educate and offer alternatives.  We also respond to air pollution complaints from our 24/7 Environmental Hotline: 0800 504 639.

Air quality plan and national standards

We developed and enforce the Regional Air Quality Plan for Northland. This plan identifies the significant air quality issues in Northland and sets out policies and rules to manage or protect.

The Ministry for the Environment has published Ambient Air Quality Guidelines for New Zealand.


We use rules and resource consents to control what industry and businesses are allowed to put into the air.

Air monitoring

We carry out monitoring across sites all over Northland for levels of sulphur, dust and vehicle emissions.
Read our State of the Environment Report.

Dusty roads
Northland has around 6,600 km of roads, over 4,000 km of which are unsealed. The roads are looked after by Transit New Zealand and the district councils.