Rural fires - Restricted Fire Season
The Auckland Rural Fire District is currently in a restricted fire season. This means a permit is required to light a fire in the open air.
In the Hauraki Gulf Islands, a prohibited fire season is in place, meaning no fires may be lit unless authorised by the Principal or Deputy Rural Fire Officer.
Lighting fires in urban areas in Auckland is not permitted.
See fire seasons for more on these rules, or use our rural fire address search to check whether your property is in a rural or urban fire district.
Auckland Council is the Rural Fire Authority for Auckland under the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977. This excludes:
- Defence property
- areas of other fire authorities
- urban fire district of the New Zealand Fire Service.
Our responsibility as the Rural Fire Authority is to prevent, control and suppress all fires within our district.
On this page you will find information about how we manage the risk of fire, including fire seasons, fire permits, fire stations, and volunteer fire fighters. You can also read about your obligations to help prevent fires.
If any fire gets out of hand call 111 immediately.
There are three fire seasons defined in the Forest and Rural Fires Act. These are set out below. Auckland Council also has bylaws relating to Rural Fire.
The selection and dates of the fire seasons are the responsibility of the Principal Rural Fire Officer and may vary depending on conditions.
- Restricted fire season
During the restricted fire season, a fire permit is required to light any fire in the open air. See Apply for a fire permit for more.
- Open fire season
Fires may be lit in the open air with no requirement for a permit. When a fire is lit, it must be done in a safe and considerate manner that does not cause a nuisance to your neighbours. The permitted activity rules can also be found in the Air Quality chapter of the Air Land and Water Plan.
- Prohibited fire season
A prohibited fire season can be imposed at any time throughout the year by the Principal Rural Fire Officer during periods of extreme fire danger, and no fire of any description may be lit in the open air. The only exception is if it is authorised by the Principal or Deputy Rural Fire Officer.
Apply for a fire permit
If you wish to light a fire in a rural area in Auckland during a restricted fire season, you will need to apply for a rural fire permit.
Fire is a land management tool and as such is for the purposes of clearing land and debris on the property. We discourage the use of fire in a recreational environment.
To apply for a fire permit, complete the online form. We require a lead time of three working days to issue a fire permit.
Permits will not normally be issued outside of council business hours (8am-5pm, Monday to Friday), unless otherwise arranged.
An Auckland Council Rural Fire Officer may need to inspect the site before any fire can be lit.
To assist the Rural Fire Officer conducting the inspection, the following general conditions must be met before a permit will be issued:
- Fires must be supervised at all times.
- Fires must be fully extinguished prior to being left at the end of the night.
- The material being burnt must be dry vegetation or untreated wood.
- No commercial waste is to be burnt.
- All close neighbours are to be informed.
- No fire is to cause a smoke nuisance to any neighbour.
- Fires are only to be burnt during the hours of daylight and must be settled by nightfall.
- Fires are not to be burnt in conditions of high wind (low wind or still conditions are recommended).
- Fires must have a reasonable clear space or fire break around their base. A simple guide is to have twice the height of the fire in clear space.
- Fires must not be within 5 meters of any structure, other vegetation or property boundary. For larger fires this margin will need to be increased.
There is no charge for the issue of fire permits.
Rural fire permit online application form
Requirements when lighting a fire
Any person lighting an open air fire must ensure:
- the fire is supervised at all times
- appropriate equipment is on hand to extinguish the fire if it gets out of control
- the fire is not lit during strong winds or in weather conditions likely to spread the fire beyond the limits of the property
- the fire is appropriately located to prevent it spreading.
If a fire on your property gets out of control or creates a nuisance, all costs associated with putting out the fire may be passed on to you.
Fires on Hauraki Gulf Islands
The islands of the Hauraki Gulf, including but not limited to Kawau, Waiheke and Great Barrier Islands, are in a prohibited fire season.
When not in a prohibited fire season, these islands still operate within a restricted fire season. At these times if you wish to light a fire you will need to apply for a fire permit.
Fires in public places and urban areas
It is illegal to have an open fire in any urban areas and public places in the Auckland region, including beaches, foreshores, parks, reserves and forests. This rule also applies to the Hauraki Gulf islands where people often mistakenly believe fires are allowed and safe.
Outdoor cooking and heating
In urban areas, fires are permitted in braziers, solid fuel barbecues, umus and hangis, provided they are used in a safe and considerate manner that adheres to basic prevention measures.
In rural areas, residents must apply for a permit to light open air fires for these purposes during a restricted fire season. Gas barbecues are still permitted.
Use our rural fire address search to check whether your property is in a rural or urban fire district.
On Hauraki Gulf Islands, hangis, umus and braziers are not permitted while the prohibited fire season is in place.
Please observe the following guidelines:
- Advise your neighbours before you have your fire.
- Don't cause a smoke nuisance.
- Use untreated, dry wood which will burn without too much smoke.
- Do not burn rubbish or plastics in the fire.
Outdoor burning and single chamber incinerators are a major source of pollution in the Auckland region. When materials are burnt in the open or in backyard incinerators, the fire is not hot enough and does not have sufficient oxygen to destroy air pollutants.
As well as producing harmful pollutants, open fires and fires in unapproved incinerators can also be a real nuisance to neighbours due to odour, smoke, ash and soiling of surfaces.
Properties with overgrown grass
Overgrown properties are a common complaint year-round, and can have serious implications. The council will become involved with overgrown properties if they involve a potential risk to health. This includes:
- long, dry grass posing a fire hazard
- overgrowth providing a breeding ground for rats and other vermin
- property providing a breeding ground for flies, mosquitoes or other insects capable of causing or transmitting disease.
If you cannot get the property owner to mow their property, contact us. We will write to the owner and give him/her a reasonable amount of time to cut their grass. If the property remains unmown, we will arrange for it to be cut at the owner's expense.
You can also contact us if you are unsure or have any questions.
Guy Fawkes - bonfires
On Guy Fawkes Night bonfires are only allowed in rural areas. If it is a restricted fire season a permit is required. Please contact us if you are unsure or have any questions.
The following guidelines must be followed:
- Bonfires must be supervised at all times.
- Bonfires must be fully extinguished prior to being left at the end of the night.
- All close neighbours are to be informed.
- The local fire station must be informed.
- No bonfire is to cause a smoke nuisance to any other neighbour.
- Fires are only to be burnt during the hours of daylight and settled by night fall.
- Fires are not to be burnt in conditions of high wind. Low wind or still conditions are recommended.
- Any fire must have a reasonable clear space or fire break around the base of the fire. A simple guide is to have twice the height of the fire in clear space.
- Fire must not be within 5 meters of any structure, other vegetation or property boundary. For larger fires this margin will need to be increased.
Bonfires are prohibited within urban areas and there are no exceptions to this rule.
Pet owners are reminded to ensure their animals are safe during Guy Fawkes. Dogs and cats should be kept inside to avoid any harm and distress.
Rural fire stations
The Auckland Rural Fire Authority operates sixteen rural fire stations staffed by volunteer crews, both male and female, recruited from the local community.
These fire stations are situated at:
- Orere Point, Orere Point Road, Orere Point
- Hunua, Lockwood Road, Hunua
- Awhitu, Awhitu Road, Matakawau
- Waitakere, Township Road, Waitakere
- Karekare, Lone Kauri Road, Karekare
- Bethells Valley, Bethells Road, Bethells Valley
- Muriwai, Coast Road, Muriwai
- Shelly Beach, James McLeod Road, Shelly Beach
- Ahuroa, West Coast Road, Ahuroa
- Puhoi, Ahuroa Road, Puhoi
- Matakana, Omaha Flats Road, Matakana
- Kaukapakapa, Kaipara Coast Highway, Kaukapakapa
- Kawau, Kawau Island
- Tryphena, Rosalie, Great Barrier
- Kaitoke, Hector Sanderson, Great Barrier
- Okupu, Blind Bay Road, Great Barrier
Volunteer rural fire fighters
We are always on the lookout for suitable men and women to join our Volunteer Fire Force.
The rural fire stations are staffed by dedicated people who commit their time and considerable effort into ensuring that their neighbourhoods have the best fire protection possible.
All rural fire stations conduct weekly training sessions and crews are also expected to attend specialist training courses on weekends when required. Fundraising and community awareness programmes are part of the normal activities.
The knowledge and satisfaction of caring, in a very practical way, for your own community, of bringing help to your neighbours when they really need a hand, makes the commitment well worth while. It is sometimes a dangerous and dirty occupation, but working as part of a trained, disciplined team is something which few people nowadays have the opportunity to do.
If you would like to be a part of this organisation and feel you could commit the time and energy to the service, contact us.
We require you to be:
- in good health
- 16 years old or over
- located within a reasonable distance from a station
- able to stand up to the rigours of service
- willing to undergo the required training
- able to work within a dedicated team.
The Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977 and regulations require us to plan for fires in rural areas. Contact us if you would like a copy of the Auckland Rural Authority Fire Plan.