Scientific evidence tells us that inefficient wood burners and poor wood burning technique are responsible for the majority of winter pollution in our region. That’s why we are encouraging the use of ENERGY STAR® qualified heat pumps or modern ultra-low emission burners that emit less smoke than older, more polluting burners. Plus we are encouraging everyone to adopt better burning practices so they get the very best out of their wood burners by learning to burn smoke free.

Which burners are authorised?

Find wood burners and pellet fires authorised for use in Canterbury.

Registering to use your burner for extended use

If you live in Timaru, Waimate or Geraldine, some of the home heating measures below may be new to you.

We know that replacing an older burner takes time and money and so if you are experiencing hardship, or not in a position to replace your old wood burner right now, you can register with Environment Canterbury using this online form, and so continue to use that older burner.

Who can register?
Timaru Clean Air Zone
If you live on a site less than 2ha with an open fire or older style burner that is 15 years or older, register so you can use this burner in winter 2017
Waimate Clean Air Zone
If you live on a site less than 2ha with an open fire or newly-purchased properties with an older style burner 15 years or older.
Geraldine Clean Air Zone
If you live on a site less than 2ha with an open fire or newly-purchased properties with an older style burner 15 years or older.

Home heating measures

There are different home heating measures for different Clean Air Zones, which are areas in Canterbury where air pollution is often high.

To find out what Clean Air Zone you are in visit Canterbury Maps.

We test burners to make sure they can pass an emissions test before authorising them for use.

Region wide (outside of a Clean Air Zone)
Wood burner-use rules for sites that are less than 2ha in size (generally urban areas):
  • use dry, seasoned wood only
  • no visible smoke, except for brief periods
  • new burners to be installed by an accredited installer
  • ultra-low emission burners and low-emission burners are allowed into all homes, including new homes
  • older style burners can be used, but cannot be installed
  • no burning of toxic substances/materials.
Wood burner-use rules for sites that are greater than 2ha in size (generally rural areas):
  • no burning of toxic substances/materials
  • best practice to use dry and seasoned wood
  • best practice to have no visible smoke, except for brief periods
Region wide (inside a Clean Air Zone)
Wood burner-use rules for sites that are less than 2ha in size (generally urban areas):
  • use dry, seasoned wood only
  • no visible smoke, except for brief periods
  • new burners to be installed by an accredited installer
  • no burning of toxic substances/materials.

Heritage buildings

There are exceptions for listed heritage buildings where the heating appliances and chimney were original features (including restored original features).

Christchurch Clean Air Zone
Wood burner-use rules for sites that are less than 2ha in size (generally urban areas):
  • ultra-low emission burners are allowed into all homes, including new homes
  • installation of low-emission burners into new homes is not allowed
  • use of existing low-emission burners is allowed for up to 20 years or until 1 January 2019, whichever is later
  • from 1 January 2019 any new burner installed must be an ultra-low emission burner
  • use of open fires or older style burners is not allowed
  • older style wood burners (that do not meet a 1 gram emission standard and are not on the Environment Canterbury authorised list that are 15 years or older can be replaced with a low emission wood burner provided that a building consent is issued by Christchurch City Council before 31 October 2017. If you miss this deadline, you can only install an ultralow emission burner
  • all burners must be registered with Environment Canterbury and all maintenance records must be kept.
Wood burner-use rules for sites that are greater than 2ha in size (generally rural areas):
  • ultra-low emission burners and low-emission burners are allowed into all homes, including new homes
  • older style burners can be used, but cannot be installed
  • open fires installed from 2013 onwards cannot be used.
Waimate Clean Air Zone
Wood burner-use rules for sites that are less than 2ha in size (generally urban areas):
  • ultra-low emission burners and low-emission burners are allowed into all homes, including new homes
  • use of open fires is not allowed
  • older style wood burners (that do not meet a 1 gram emission standard) need to be upgraded by 1 January 2020, or if a property is sold before this date
  • all burners must be registered with Environment Canterbury and all maintenance records must be kept.
Wood burner-use rules for sites that are greater than 2ha in size (generally rural areas):
  • ultra-low emission burners and low emission burners are allowed into all homes, including new homes
  • older style burners can be used, but cannot be installed
Geraldine Clean Air Zone
Wood burner-use rules for sites that are less than 2ha in size (generally urban areas):
  • ultra-low emission burners and low-emission burners are allowed into all homes, including new homes
  • use of open fires is not allowed
  • older style wood burners (that do not meet a 1 gram emission standard) need to be upgraded by 1 January 2020, or if a property is sold before this date
  • all burners must be registered with Environment Canterbury and all maintenance records must be kept
Wood burner-use rules for sites that are greater than 2ha in size (generally rural areas):
  • ultra-low emission burners and low emission burners are allowed into all homes, including new homes
  • older style burner can be used, but cannot be installed
Timaru Clean Air Zone
Wood burner-use rules for sites that are less than 2ha in size (generally urban areas):
  • ultra-low emission burners are allowed into all homes including new homes
  • installation of low-emission burners into new homes is not allowed
  • use of existing low-emission burners is allowed for up to 15 years or until 1 January 2019, whichever is later
  • from 1 January 2019 any new burner installed must be an ultra-low emission burner
  • use of open fires is not allowed
  • older style wood burners (that do not meet a 1 gram emission standard) that are 15 years or older must now be upgraded
  • however, if you are experiencing hardship, or not in a position to replace your older wood burner right now, you can register with Environment Canterbury using our online form and continue to use that older burner during winter 2017
  • if you have registered with us so you can delay your upgrade until after winter, you must still get a building consent from the Timaru District Council for a new low emission burner before 31 October 2017
  • all burners must be registered with Environment Canterbury and all maintenance records must be kept.

Wood burner-use rules for sites that are greater than 2ha in size (generally rural areas):

  • ultra-low emission burners and low emission burners are allowed into all homes, including new homes
  • older style burners can be used, but cannot be installed
  • open fires installed from 2013 onwards cannot be used
Ashburton Clean Air Zone
Wood burner-use rules for sites that are less than 2ha in size (generally urban areas):
  • ultra-low emission burners are allowed into all homes including new homes
  • installation of low-emission burners into new homes is not allowed
  • use of existing low-emission burners is allowed for up to 20 years or until 1 January 2019, whichever is later
  • from 1 January 2019 any new burner installed must be an ultra-low emission burner
  • use of open fires or older-style burners (older than 15 years) is not allowed
  • older style wood burners (that do not meet a 1 gram emission standard and are not on the Environment Canterbury authorised list that are 15 years or older can be replaced with a low emission wood burner provided that a building consent is issued by Ashburton District Council before 31 October 2017
  • after 31 October 2017, older style burners can be replaced with a low emission burner provided they are being replaced before they reach 15 years of age
  • all burners must be registered with Environment Canterbury and all maintenance records must be kept.
Wood burner-use rules for sites that are greater than 2ha in size (generally rural areas):
  • ultra-low emission burners and low emission burners are allowed into all homes, including new homes
  • older style burners can be used, but cannot be installed
  • open fires installed from 2013 onwards cannot be used
Rangiora Clean Air Zone
Wood burner-use rules for sites less that are less than 2ha in size (generally urban areas):
  • ultra-low emission burners are allowed into all homes including new homes
  • installation of low-emission burners into new homes is not allowed
  • use of existing low-emission burners is allowed for up to 20 years or until 1 January 2019, whichever is later
  • from 1 January 2019 any new burner installed must be an ultra-low emission burner
  • use of open fires or older-style burners (older than 15 years) is not allowed
  • All older style wood burners (that do not meet a 1 gram emission standard and are not on the Environment Canterbury authorised list that are 15 years or older can be replaced with a low emission wood burner provided that a building consent is issued by Waimakariri District Council before 31 October 2017
  • After 31 October 2017, older style burners can be replaced with a low emission burner provided they are being replaced before they reach 15 years of age
  • all burners must be registered with Environment Canterbury and all maintenance records must be kept.
Wood burner-use rules for sites that are greater than 2ha in size (usually rural areas):
  • ultra-low emission burners and low-emission burners are allowed into all homes, including new homes
  • older style burners can be used, but cannot be installed
  • open fires installed from 2013 onwards cannot be used.
Kaiapoi Clean Air Zone
Wood burner-use rules for sites that are less than 2ha in size (generally urban ares):
  • ultra-low emission burners are allowed into all homes including new homes
  • installation of low-emission burners into new homes is not allowed
  • use of existing low-emission burners is allowed for up to 20 years or until 1 January 2019, whichever is later
  • from 1 January 2019 any new burner installed must be an ultra-low emission burner
  • use of open fires or older-style burners (older than 15 years) is not allowed
  • All older style wood burners (that do not meet a 1 gram emission standard and are not on the Environment Canterbury authorised list that are 15 years or older can be replaced with a low emission wood burner provided that a building consent is issued by Waimakariri District Council before 31 October 2017
  • After 31 October 2017, older style burners can be replaced with a low emission burner provided they are being replaced before they reach 15 years of age
  • all burners must be registered with Environment Canterbury and all maintenance records must be kept.
Wood burner-use rules for sites that are greater than 2ha in size (generally rural areas):
  • ultra-low emission burners and low-emission burners are allowed into all homes, including new homes
  • older style burners can be used, but cannot be installed
  • open fires installed from 2013 onwards cannot be used

Burner types

There are five basic types of home heating appliances: gas and diesel burners, ultra-low emission burners, low emission burners, older-style burners and open fires.

Use the drop-down menus below to find out more about each type and how our home heating measures apply to them.

Older technology is being phased out over time and financial assistance is available, where genuine need exists, to enable households to upgrade their home heating systems.

You can also apply for burner extensions in some areas (see 'Registering your burner for an extension' below) to allow for sufficient time to change.

Gas and diesel burners
Gas and diesel burners are generally boilers or gas fires that run on LPG or diesel. So long as they have a rated output of 40kW or less, they are allowed to be used anywhere, with no age restriction.
Ultra-low emission burners
Ultra-low emission burners are any solid fuel burners, including pellet burners, that achieve a stringent real-life emission standard – they are the cleanest solid fuel burners and are allowed anywhere with no age restriction.
Low emission burners
Low emission burners are the most common wood burners in Canterbury and have been around since the early 2000s. These burners only burn wood and will generally have only one air flow control and will not be able to be banked down overnight. You can use these burners in most areas, but in some Clean Air Zones they are being phased out.
Older-style burners
Older-style burners are generally only common outside of Christchurch, Kaiapoi, Rangiora and Ashburton. They may have two air flow controls, a grate and an ash pan and may be multi-fuel burners. They can be banked down overnight. These burners are being phased out in all Clean Air Zones and in Christchurch they can no longer be used.
Open fires
Open fires are any fire places that are not enclosed and in which air flow cannot be controlled. These burners are being phased out in all Clean Air Zones and in Rangiora, Kaiapoi, Christchurch, Ashburton and Timaru they can no longer be used

Registering your new burner

If you are installing a wood burner or pellet fire within a Clean Air Zone, you will need to register it using our Solid Fuel Burner Database or by ringing customer services with your details.

You can also use the database to:

  • check the age of your existing burner
  • check the age of a burner at a property you are thinking of purchasing
  • let us know when home ownership changes
  • update your burner details, such as its make and model.