Fires in designated fireplaces are allowed outside a fire ban

Image: Benhi Dixon | Creative Commons

Introduction

Find out when and where you can light fires on public conservation land.

On public conservation land, you must not light any fires during a total fire ban, during a Prohibited fire season, or where signs say fires are not permitted. The only exception is the fireplaces inside DOC huts which you can use any time.

At other times, you can only light fires in certain places and you must follow the specific conditions below.

Lighting fires at huts

You can use the permanent fireplaces inside DOC huts at any time.

Lighting fires at campsites

At campsites, only light fires in designated fireplaces and when there is no fire ban.

You can light campfires at DOC campsites or day amenity areas only if:

  • there is no fire ban in place, and
  • you use the designated fire places/fire pits.

Only some campsites and amenity areas have designated fire places/fire pits. During a fire ban these facilities are not available to use.

Find campsites with designated fire places

Lighting fires in the backcountry

The "backcountry" refers to areas that are over an hour's walk from the nearest road end. 

You can light campfires in the backcountry only if:

  • there is no fire ban in place, and
  • there are no notices prohibiting fires there, and
  • the fire is at least 3 metres away from trees and anything that could catch fire, and
  • the fire is smaller than 0.5 m in width and in height.

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Backcountry fires must be under 0.5 m in size and have 3 metres of clear space around it

How to check if there is a fire ban

Fires are banned all year in some areas, and during a "Prohibited fire season" in others.

Some areas have a year-round total fire ban. This restriction doesn't change, so you can not light fires regardless of the fire seasons. Check the DOC website or at the local visitor centre. 

For other areas, fires are banned during a Prohibited fire season. This status is determined by Fire Emergency New Zealand (FENZ).

Check fire seasons on the FENZ map 

  1. Click "Check and apply" to open the map.
  2. Click on a point on the map.
  3. Wait for the fire season to display in a pop up.
  4. If it says "Prohibited fire season", that means there is a fire ban there.

What the fire seasons mean

There are three fire seasons as set by Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ). They are Restricted, Prohibited, and Open. 

While the three apply to all lands, public conservation land is always in a Restricted or Prohibited fire season:

  • Restricted fire season – means you may light fires at a campsite's designated fire place, and in the backcountry according to the specific conditions.
  • Prohibited fire season – means there is a fire ban and you can not light any fires on public conservation land (you can still use fireplaces inside DOC huts).

The Open fire season does not apply to public conservation land at any time of the year. 

Using gas burners and liquid stoves for cooking

On public conservation land you can usually use gas burners and enclosed liquid fuel stoves for cooking any time. 

However, you can't use open topped liquid fuel cookers, eg fish smokers using methylated spirits.

During a fire ban, you should take extra care to minimise the risks of fire. 

Fire safety advice

Read the fire safety advice from FENZ.

Other types of fires

On public conservation land, you can not light any other types of fire (including charcoal bbqs and fireworks) unless you have a permit from FENZ. Permits in these cases are usually not granted. 

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