Check the rules before you burn outdoors

The most important rule to remember is that if your property is under two hectares (20,000 square metres), you can’t burn outdoors, even if you live in a rural area.

If your property is over two hectares, you can burn dry waste material from your property and a neighbour's property, but smoke must not cause a nuisance beyond your property boundary or be blown towards a township. If you live in a Clean Air Zone, you may only burn between 1 September and 30 April. For more information about the outdoor burning rules, visit our outdoor burning page.

Check it's alright before you light

Before lighting any fires, visit to find out whether your area is in an open, restricted or prohibited fire season and what you should do to keep yourself and others safe.

Rubbish fires are a no-go

No matter how large your property is, you must not burn rubbish. Burning rubbish causes toxic chemicals to be released into the air and creates a health hazard as well as a nuisance for you and your neighbours. Materials that must not be burned in Canterbury include:

  • plastic
  • metals
  • batteries
  • painted or treated wood
  • rubber
  • coated wire
  • oil
  • chemicals
  • tar and bitumen
  • materials containing asbestos
  • containers that have stored hazardous materials.

Plastic and wood can be disposed of with general rubbish, but batteries, paint and hazardous materials need to be taken to a transfer station.

Visit your local council's website to find out how to sort your waste and the location of your nearest transfer stations.

Burning outdoors affects your neighbours

Around this time of year, we receive many complaints about outdoor burning. Callers describe how they have to stay indoors to escape the 'putrid', 'toxic' or 'chemical-smelling' smoke. Some people experience watery eyes, itchy throats and asthma symptoms because of the smoke, while others are annoyed that their washing smells smoky or that their backyard gets covered with ash.

To avoid complaints from your neighbours or a visit from one of our incident response officers, get familiar with the outdoor burning rules and consider alternatives to burning.

Alternatives to outdoor burning

Consider smoke-free alternatives for dealing with your green waste. Garden waste can go in the green bin or the compost. Grass clippings and leaves can also be used as mulch in the garden.

Whether you prefer a barbecue, pizza oven, hāngī or umu, you can cook outdoors as long as the smoke is not offensive or objectionable beyond your property boundary.

How to report outdoor burning

If smoke from outdoor burning is causing a nuisance for you, call us on 0800 765 588 (24 hours) or use the Snap Send Solve app to report an issue from your mobile phone.