DOC fire rangers at training

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Find out about restricted and prohibited fire seasons, and how fires on public conservation land is minimised.


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.

To ensure the impact of fires on public conservation land is minimised, a 365-day (year-round) restricted fire season is in place. However when fire danger conditions are such that a fire is likely to put life and property at risk, Fire and Emergency New Zealand may declare a prohibited fire season.

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

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

What does Restricted Fire Season mean?

On public conservation land, a restricted fire season means only the following fires may be lit:

  • campfires – fires lit in a permanent fireplace within a DOC overnight campsite or day time amenity area.
  • backcountry cooking and warming fires – small fires lit for cooking or warmth and are over one hour's walk from the nearest road end (backcountry)

Backcountry fires for cooking and warmth are not to be lit:

  1. within 3 metres of any tree or any place underneath overhanging vegetation
  2. within 3 metres of any log or any dry vegetation
  3. unless and until the ground surface within 3 metres of the site of the fire has been cleared of all combustible material
  4. where notices and advertising are present which specifically prohibit the lighting of fires or specify the lighting of fires only in other types of receptacles or places
  5. in conditions where wind or other factors may cause the fire to spread to surrounding flammable material
  6. during a Prohibited Fire Season

Other types of fires and incendiaries may be approved on public conservation land by applying for a fire permit from Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

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

What does Prohibited Fire Season mean?

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

Fires are more likely to burn out of control and damage vegetation and property, or cause loss of life. Fire permits are only available in limited circumstances.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand notifies DOC when a Prohibited Fire Season is declared. DOC notifies its visitors via notices, advertising and alerts on our website.

Further information

Fire season status and permits

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


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

Other types of fire

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.

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:

  • black-powder firearms
  • bird scaring ammunition
  • exploding targets
  • tracer ammunition
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