DOC fire rangers at training

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Introduction

Find out how we minimise the risks of fires on public conservation land.

Highlights

The Department of Conservation manages public conservation land and national parks on behalf of the public of New Zealand.

As a land manager DOC has established different rules for fires in these areas to protect New Zealand’s natural and cultural heritage and our visitors.

Our role in wildfires

Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) are the fire authority for all public conservation land.

The Department of Conservation support FENZ in this function. This means any fire that starts or develops on public conservation land will be controlled by FENZ under their authority, and DOC will support them. DOC does this by providing resources (including fire crew), providing advice, or by supporting the fire management.

There is a year-round Restricted Fire Season

A year-round Restricted Fire Season is in place on public conservation land. This is to ensure the impact of fires on public conservation land is minimised.

During a Restriced Fire Season, you may light fires at a campsite's designated fire place, and in the backcountry according to specific conditions. See Lighting fires on public conservation land.

Other types of fires require a permit from FENZ. 

A Prohibited Fire Season may be declared

When fire danger conditions are likely to put life and property at risk, FENZ may declare a Prohibited Fire Season. FENZ notifies DOC when a Prohibited Fire Season is declared. DOC notifies its visitors via notices and alerts.

During a Prohibited Fire Season, lighting a fire in the open is banned on public conservation land. This includes campground fires and backcountry fires.

Fire permits are only available in limited circumstances.

Fires that require permits

Visit Check it's alright for current fire season status and permits.

The following types of fires and incendiaries are considered fires in the open air. They are not permitted on public conservation land unless a fire permit has been granted by Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

  • hangi fires
  • umu fires
  • bonfires
  • pyrotechnics and fireworks
  • sky lanterns
  • portable fire places such as, braziers or chimineas using solid or liquid fuels
  • portable cooking apparatus using solid fuels such as charcoal barbeques or open topped liquid fuels (fish smokers using methylated spirits)
  • flares ignited/fired for purposes other than rescue

A permit is not guaranteed and will depend on local restrictions and current conditions.

Legislation and policies

The key legislation relating to rural fire management is the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act 2017.

In New Zealand's thirteen national parks, fires are subject to National Park policies.

Check whether land is public conservation land or a national park on our map of public conservation areas.

DOC policy relating to firearms and associated equipment

The following firearms, ammunition and associated equipment are not permitted to be used on public conservation land due to the fire risk they pose:

  • bird scaring ammunition
  • exploding targets
  • tracer ammunition

Other firearms are subject to hunting permit conditions, including black powder firearms which may be allowed with a special permit from DOC.

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