Find out more about wildfires and how to get a fire permit. Call 111 if you start or see a wildfire.

A wildfire.
A wildfire rages through Northland bush

Wildfires can risk lives, destroy property and devastate natural areas. Wildfires cost millions of dollars and take hundreds of hours to fight.

Summer is an ideal time for tramping, camping or simply enjoying New Zealand's beautiful wild places. But the hot temperatures and dry climate also create a high risk for wildfires.

Northland is particularly devasted by wildfires. More about wildfires in Northland.

Fire permits

To find out if you are allowed an outdoors fire/need a permit or if you just want information, call your local DOC office or district council.

To apply for a Northland fire permit, or for informnation on Northland fire restrictions, as well as general fire safety advice, go to the Having a fire? website.

What to do if you see a wildfire

  • Ring 111 IMMEDIATELY if you start or see a wildfire. Don't assume someone else has already done this. Wildfires spread very fast, sometimes up to more than 14 km per hour - this is faster than most people can run.
  • If you're in the bush or on a track, leave the area by the quickest route. If you're not positive about the quickest route and if it's safe to do so, go back the way you came.
  • Ideally, head into the wind.
  • If you're in a campground, go to the signposted Safe Zone.

A helicopter dousing a fire.
A helicopter dousing a fire in the Far North

Rural firefighters at a briefing.
Rural firefighters attending a morning briefing at a large vegetation fire on the Pouto Peninsula, Northland

How to prevent wildfires

Check whether you’re allowed to light an outdoors fire every time. This includes campfires, rubbish fires and cooking fires.

If you are allowed to have a fire:

  • Stay with it until it’s out (put your hand in the fire to make sure it’s out – seriously)
  • Don't have the fire on a windy day
  • Make sure there are 3 metres clear around the whole area to be burned and no overhanging plants or trees
  • Follow permit conditions.

Have fire fighting gear and supplies close by, especially a good water source.

Light fireworks in places well away from other things that can burn (like plants, trees and bush).

Don’t throw away cigarettes.

Effects of  a wildfire

Everyone in a wildfire loses. The person found responsible will lose money directly. Everyone else loses money because of the cost to the Department of Conservation (through taxes) and to councils (through rates). Other services you need get put aside to fight the fire. Public conservation land and the plants and animals that live on it are destroyed.

Wildfires have killed whole populations of animals and plants people have spent years trying to protect.

Kiwi, kukupa, fern birds and hundreds of skinks and geckos have died horribly trying to escape the smoke and flames. Often they’re burnt alive.

Rata, pohutukawa, orchids, flaxes and kauri are among the plants burned to the ground. It takes generations for some to grow to full size, but only minutes to kill them.

Consequences of starting a wildfire

Whether you meant to start it, or it "got away from you", there are consequences. If you’re found responsible for starting a wildfire, especially if you try to hide the fact or pretend you’re not responsible - you pay for it. It could be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Rural fire organisations have information about how wildfires start and the people who light them. It’s against the law to start a wildfire - every one of them is investigated.

Wildfires have consequences factsheet:

Wildfires in Northland

Most wildfires in Northland are lit on purpose or caused through carelessness. Many are suspected arsons or resulted from unpermitted fires. Many occurred during a total fire ban.

Less fires in Northland factsheet:

Northland wildfires radio advertisements:

Northland contacts

Pewhairangi / Bay of Islands Office
Phone:   +64 9 407 0300
Fax:   +64 9 407 7938
Address:   34 Landing Road
Kerikeri 0230
Postal Address:   PO Box 128
Kerikeri 0245
Whangarei Office
Phone:   +64 9 470 3300
Fax:   +64 9 470 3361
Address:   2 South End Ave
Whangarei 0110
Postal Address:   PO Box 842
Whangarei 0140
Kaitaia Office
Phone:   +64 9 408 6014
Fax:   +64 9 408 6019
Address:   25 Matthews Ave
Kaitaia 0441
Postal Address:   PO Box 569
Kaitaia 0441
Te Tai Kauri / Kauri Coast Office
Phone:   +64 9 439 3450
Fax:   +64 9 439 3451
Address:   150 Colville Road
Postal Address:   150 Colville Road
Dargaville 0377

Far North District Council
Phone: 0800 920 029 or +64 9 405 2750

Kaipara District Council
Phone: 0800 727 059 or +64 9 439 7059

Whangarei District Council
Phone: 0800 932 463 or +64 9 430 4200

Wildfires in the Hauraki Gulf

Fires on Hauraki Gulf islands

There is a total fire ban on islands in the Hauraki Gulf (with the exceptions of Waiheke, Great Barrier, Kawau and Rakino, where you can light a fire if you have a permit). Check the current Hauraki Gulf fire conditions.

Working together to protect the Hauraki Gulf

From small beginnings mighty things can grow, and from small beginnings mighty things can go. A single spark can be devastating to Auckland's treasured islands—and everything that lives there. If you see a fire call 111.

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