Outdoor burning

Outdoor burning can be a nuisance for neighbours and add to air pollution caused by other sources such as home heating. Our rules on outdoor burning are tailored to rural and urban areas. To report a burning-related incident, call our pollution hotline.

Outdoor burning in areas less than 2ha (generally urban areas)

thick smoke pollutes the air during an outdoor waste burnoff

Outdoor burning is not permitted on properties that are less than 2 ha. This includes the burning of any green waste, which is not allowed without a resource consent. Green waste can be disposed of by composting, shredding or chipping to make garden mulch or by using kerbside collection or transfer stations.

Cooking activities are OK

Outdoor cooking is allowed so long as smoke from your barbecue, pizza oven or other method has no offensive or objectionable effect beyond your boundary. There are some other exceptions for burning as part of a community event (such as an organised Guy Fawkes event) or for firefighting training and biosecurity reasons.

If you are planning a hangi or umu please contact Environment Canterbury first as we may receive calls about the fire from people in your area.

Outdoor burning in areas greater than 2ha (generally rural areas)

smoke fumes from fire during an outdoor stubble burnoff

Burning vegetation on large (generally rural) properties, including the burning of crop stubble, can be a concern to those living nearby. The smoke created is often the subject of complaints and can also contribute to poor air quality.

Our outdoor burning rules for rural areas apply year-round; however they vary in different Clean Air Zones, crop residue burning buffer areas and in the hill and high country.

It also pays to check if you need a fire permit from your district or city council or your local Fire and Emergency New Zealand Principal Rural Fire Officer. City and district councils sometimes apply restrictions in summer or during dry periods to reduce the fire danger to people and property.

Rural outdoor burning rules

Region-wide rules
Before you do any outdoor burn you must:

Make sure to check with your local city or district council, and rural fire service for any other burning restrictions. Be kind to your neighbour and let them know that you plan to burn. Follow the FIRE prompt for all your burning activities:

First check the burning rules for your area.

Inform your local Fire and Emergency New Zealand Principal Rural Fire Officer, ECan and neighbours that you plan to burn.

Review what you’re going to burn, and follow your smoke management plan if it’s required.

Ensure that your burn does not affect your township or immediate neighbours. 

You can check if you are in a buffer zone using Canterbury Maps.

  • burning only takes place on a property that is greater than 2ha in area
  • only vegetation, paper, cardboard, or untreated wood is allowed to be burnt
  • the material to be burnt must be dry
  • the material being burnt is only from you or your neighbour’s property 
  • no more than 10L of liquid fire accelerant is used
  • your fire must not be within 100m of a National Grid power line or substation (unless permission has been obtained)
  • your fire must be at least 100m upwind and 50m in any other direction from your neighbours (unless permission has been obtained)

  • if burning is within 4 kilometres of a township then smoke must not be blown in its direction

  • if the burn will last 3 days or more a smoke management plan is required and must be in place

 

Clean Air Zone rules

If your property is located in a Clean Air Zone then you are only allowed to burn between 1 September and 30 April each year and must also adhere to the region-wide rules. If your property is located in the Geraldine, Ashburton, Waimate, or Rangiora Clean Air Zone, burning is allowed to occur during the month of May between the hours of 8am and 4pm (subject to meeting the region-wide rules).   To find out what Clean Air Zone you are in visit Canterbury Maps.

Having a district council permit to burn green waste in a rural area does not exclude you from the winter ban.

Crop residue rules

Crop residue burning buffer areas

The air plan sets out two crop residue burning buffer areas in Canterbury. Within these areas the burning of standing crop residue is a controlled activity and requires resource consent. These areas are around the Clean Air Zones near Ashburton and Timaru townships, where smoke from outdoor burning has a significant effect. You can check if you are in a buffer zone using Canterbury Maps

Crop residue region wide (outside buffer areas)

The burning of standing crop residue outside of the crop residue burning buffer areas is permitted provided that the following conditions are met:

  • the burning does not cause an offensive or objectionable effect beyond the boundary of the property
  • burning does not occur within 100m of a National Grid power line or substation (unless permission has been obtained)
  • a smoke management plan is prepared and implemented.         
Hill and high country rules

Hill and high country is land with a slope of more than 20 degrees and/or land that is more than 600 metres above sea level. Burning vegetation in the Canterbury hill and high country is allowed provided certain conditions are met. You must also provide Environment Canterbury with prior notice of your burn (at least 20 working days before burning) using this online hill and high country burning form. We’ll either confirm your intended burn meets the permitted activity criteria or inform you that a resource consent is required.

Hill and high country burning conditions

  • burning must not occur within five metres of the bed of a river (if the wetted bed is more than two metres wide)
  • burning must not occur within five metres of a lake or any wetland boundary, where the wetland is more than 0.5 hectares)
  • within the area to be burnt:
- the extent of bare ground shall be less than 20 per cent and;
- the slope of the land shall be less than 35 degrees and;
- the land to be burnt must be less than 900 metres above sea level
  • vegetation in the area to be burnt must not have been burnt within the last ten years
  • burning must be carried out between 1 June and 31 October
  • the burnt area must be either 
-spelled from grazing for a minimum of six months following burning or;
-sown with pasture seed within six months of burning or;
-planted with trees within one year of burning.

Failure to notify us prior to burning vegetation in the hill and high country may result in enforcement action. It also pays to check if you need a fire permit from your district or your local Fire and Emergency New Zealand Principal Rural Fire Officer. If your burn does not comply with our hill and high country burning conditions, you’ll need a resource consent.