Season status definitions

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Season status definitions

What are the fire seasons?

Fire and Emergency has three types of fire season:

Open fire season

Open fire season

You can light a fire in open air without a permit – as long as you do so safely, have permission from the relevant land owner or occupier, and Fire and Emergency New Zealand hasn’t prohibited the lighting of fires in open air in the location of your proposed fire.

You are responsible for the fire and must ensure that it does not get out of control and spread to vegetation or property, and that it is put out properly. You also need to comply with city/district and regional council burning restrictions, including requirements relating to smoke nuisance and controls under the Resource Management Act.

Contact Fire and Emergency for advice on fire safety.

Restricted fire season

Fire by permit only

Lighting a fire is riskier than normal during a restricted fire season and you need to get a fire permit from Fire and Emergency before you light a fire in open air.

The fire permit issued to you will include specific conditions to help you light your proposed fire safely and prevent it from getting out of control and spreading.

You also need to comply with city/district and regional council burning restrictions, including requirements relating to smoke nuisance and controls under the Resource Management Act.

It is an offence to knowingly or recklessly light, or allow another person to light, a fire in open air without a fire permit, or not in accordance with the conditions of a fire permit, during a restricted fire season.

Some authorised fire types may be allowed in your area without a permit during a restricted fire season. If you are unsure, the permit application process will identify if you need a permit.

There is an all year round restricted fire season on public conservation land – find out more here.

Prohibited fire season

Prohibited

It’s hot and dry! Fires are more likely to burn out of control and result in damage to vegetation or property, or loss of life.

Lighting a fire would be extremely risky so there is a ban on lighting any fires in open air.

During prohibited fire seasons, Fire and Emergency will only grant permits that are necessary to prevent, reduce, or overcome any hazard to life or because of any other serious emergency. Permits may also be granted if the weather or other conditions temporarily reduce the fire risk, making it safe to light a fire.

You also need to comply with city/district and regional council burning restrictions, including requirements relating to smoke nuisance and controls under the Resource Management Act

It is an offence to knowingly or recklessly light, or allow another person to light, a fire in open air without a fire permit, or not in accordance with the conditions of a fire permit, during a prohibited fire season.

Some authorised fire types may be allowed in your area without a permit during a prohibited fire season. If you are unsure, the permit application process will identify if you need a permit. 

Fire Prohibited in open air

Fire and Emergency can prohibit the lighting of fires in open air in an area, regardless of the fire season.  It will consider fire risk conditions in the area before prohibiting the lighting of fires, for fire control purposes.

Fire and Emergency is most likely to prohibit the lighting of fires in open air when there is extreme fire danger in an area, or a strain on the firefighting resources available to assist in the event of a fire.

Examples may include:

  • Large or multiple incidents putting firefighting resources under strain (for example the Port Hills fire).
  • Extreme fire weather conditions during a restricted season, e.g. strong dry winds, high temperatures associated with very low humidity.
  • Emergency events such as the rupture of the Marsden Point fuel pipeline which increases the fire hazard in a specific area.

When Fire and Emergency prohibits the lighting of fires in open air, all fire permits previously issued to enable fires in that area during a restricted season are suspended. The suspension will remain in place for the duration of the prohibition. 

Fire and Emergency will only grant permits while a prohibition is in force if that is necessary to prevent, reduce, or overcome any hazard to life or because of any other serious emergency.