Fires - Permits and Smoke Complaints

Fire Season Status

Check the Fire and Emergency New Zealand its Alright to Light page

Open air fires can easily get out of control and are potentially very dangerous. They can put people's lives, buildings, homes, livestock and crops at risk, if they are not carried out carefully and responsibly. Fires can also generate nuisance from smoke.

If you are planning to light a fire in an urban area in Manawatu, you will need a Fire Permit.

Rural Fire Permits

On 1 July 2017, the new Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act 2017 came into force. This Act repeals the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1997, with immediate effect.

Fire Permits may be required for all open air fires in rural areas, including hangi, umu, fires in braziers, incinerator fires, vegetation fires or controlled burns. If you are uncertain whether you require a permit contact the Manawatu Principal Rural Fire Officer 0800 658 628 .

For more information on Rural Fire Permits, click here.

Urban Fire Permits

On 1 July 2018, Fire & Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) assumed responsibility for fire permitting in the urban Manawatū area. FENZ are responsible for declaring fire seasons, issuing fire permits (fire control) and fire hazard removal in all urban and rural locations.

If you live in Apiti, Cheltenham, Feilding, Halcombe, Himatangi, Kimbolton, Rongotea or Tangimoana, you may need to apply for an urban fire permit.

Fire permits are required for all open air fires in the urban environment, but excludes supervised hangi, umu, fires in braziers/barbecues on hardstand surfaces and outdoor fire places which have a building consent. During a total fire ban, special permits may be obtained to light hangi or other traditional cooking fires. Special fire permits are issued at the discretion of the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Principal Rural Fire Officer and subject to a site safety inspection.

Permits and or exemptions may be required for one-off events, such as a cultural celebration or scout/guide camp fire, filming or training exercises.

The following conditions must be adhered to:

  • Attend the fire at all times.
  • Locate the fire at least 3m away from buildings, trees and fences.
  • Have a means to extinguish the fire.
  • Avoid a smoke nuisance, and inform your neighbours before you burn, and make sure material is dry and appropriate to burn.
  • Contact the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Communications Centre prior to lighting any fire.

For more information visit

Construction of Permanent Outdoor Fireplaces

Planning to construct a permanently fixed outdoor fire place such as a barbecue, or pizza oven? When you consider constructing such a structure be sure you check you are complying with the Building Code and seek specific advice from Council or a registered builder. Your outdoor fire place may not require a building consent, but still needs to comply with the building code, the District Plan and the Urban Fire Bylaw. Generally speaking, if you comply with the Building Code, it is highly likely you will comply with the Urban Fire Bylaw.

Guy Fawkes - Bonfires

On Guy Fawkes night, bonfires are only allowed in rural areas and a permit is required.

The following guidelines must be followed:

  • Bonfires must be supervised at all times
  • Bonfires must be fully extinguished prior to being left at the end of the night.
  • All close neighbours are to be informed.
  • The local fire station must be informed.
  • No bonfire is to cause smoke nuisance to any other neighbour.
  • Fires are not to be burnt in conditions of high wind. Low wind or still conditions are recommended.
  • Any fire must have a reasonable clear space or fire break around the base of the fire. A simple guide is to have twice the height of the fire in clear space.
  • Bonfires must not be within five metres of any structure, other vegetation or property boundary. For larger fires this margin will need to be increased.

Bonfires are prohibited within urban areas – with exception only to permitted public events with Fire Support.

Pet owners are reminded to ensure their animals are safe during Guy Fawkes. Dogs and cats should be kept inside to avoid any harm and distress.


A Fire Permit is a legal document authorising a person to light a fire, under the conditions set out in that permit. It does not remove your responsibility to conduct a safe fire.

Don't light the fire until you receive your permit as there may be special conditions attached. Read the permit carefully before lighting the fire.

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