Rural Fire Authority and Fire Permits

​​​​​​Current fire season status: open fire season

The open fire season started on 1 May and is expected to run until 30 September. 

The restricted fire season typically starts on 1 October at which time permits are required to light a fire in the open air. 

Fire Seasons

There are three fire seasons you should be aware of:

  • Open Fire Season
    No fire permit is needed to light a fire in the open air
  • Restricted Fire Season
    A fire permit from the relevant rural fire authority is required to light a fire in the open air
  • Prohibited Fire Season
    Total fire ban and lighting of fires is not permitted in the open air

You should know what fire season is operating if you are travelling or visiting a rural fire area. Changes to fire seasons are notified by radio announcements or newspaper advertisements or information is available directly from the relevant rural fire authority.

Fire Permits

When do I need a fire permit?

You'll need a fire permit during a Restricted fire season. Check with the relevant local Rural Fire Authority regarding what fire season is in place. However, even if you have a permit you are still responsible for a fire that spreads and causes damage. Failure to obtain a permit for a fire is an offence against the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977 carrying a $1,500 fine.

Applying for a fire permit

Fire permits must be applied for from the relevant authority and can take up to 48 hours to process. Permits are for the hours between 7am to 3pm only and are normally valid for 14 days. We can direct you to the appropriate authority.

How the rural fire system works

Fires in rural areas are the responsibility of the person(s) who light them. Fire suppression of uncontrolled fires in rural areas however is the responsibility of the Rural Fire Authority. This is different from urban areas where the New Zealand Fire Service is the urban fire authority and is responsible for fire suppression.

Rural Fire Authorities are primarily concerned with the control of vegetation fires. They're also responsible for fire prevention activities and as such monitor the daily fire danger, declare fire seasons and issue fire permits.

The work of these Rural Fire Authorities is co-ordinated by the National Rural Fire Authority which also promotes training, research and co-operations between Rural Fire Authorities. The Authority also sets national standards; monitors fire danger and administers the Rural Fire Fighting Fund.

Further information


Page reviewed: 31 May 2017 9:02am