Fires in the open air

Fires outside a building are governed by two sets of rules: Otago Regional Council Plan: Air, which deals with pollution, and Fire and Emergency New Zealand’s regulations, which deal with safety. Any fire in the open air must meet both ORC and FENZ rules.

 

Otago Regional Council

Arrowtown is in Otago Regional Council’s Air Zone 1 because of the air pollution problems. If a fire does not meet the requirements of ORC Plan: Air, it is in breach of the Resource Management Act.

Under the plan, you may not light a solid-fuel fire in the outdoors within 50 m of a property boundary. This effectively means that within residential Arrowtown you are not permitted to use a brazier, outdoor fireplace (even fully enclosed and with a chimney) or incinerator, or burn rubbish or garden waste.

Exceptions

There are some fires you are permitted to have within 50 m of a boundary, provided the fuel is dry and the smoke does not cause a nuisance to your neighbours:

  • charcoal barbecues, pizza ovens, tandoors and other solid-fuel fires used for cooking food
  • celebratory bonfires and campfires
  • hangi and umu

 

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

The FENZ rules about fires are concerned with fire safety. The rules vary depending on the fire season, which is notified through the press, on the web and on Facebook.

Open season

No fire permit is needed to light a fire in open air, as long as you have permission from the land owner. You are still responsible for the fire and must ensure it does not get out of control and spread to vegetation or property. However the ORC rule about being 50 m from a boundary still applies. If the fire is to be within 1 km of a Department of Conservation reserve a permit may required – check with FENZ first. Arrowtown has DOC reserves on Feehly Hill, at Arrow Junction and the north-west corner of Lake Hayes.

Restricted season

You will need to get a permit to light a fire in the open air. You commit an offence if you knowingly or recklessly light without a fire permit, or not in accordance with the conditions of a fire permit, during a restricted fire season. Allowable fires that may be lit without a permit include charcoal barbecues, approved incinerators, permanent outdoor fireplaces and cultural fires, e.g. hangi or umu – but the ORC rule about being 50 m from a boundary applies.

Prohibited season

There is a total ban on the lighting of any fires in open air and permits will not be issued. Allowable fires include charcoal barbecues, approved incinerators, permanent outdoor fireplaces and cultural fires – but the ORC rule about being 50 m from a boundary applies.