Light an outdoor fire

Wellington City Council enforces a restricted fire season throughout the year. That means if you want to light an outdoor fire, you need a fire permit. Failure to obtain one is an offence against Council bylaws and the Forest and Rural Act 1977.

You can get a permit for a maximum of 1 year. Applications require an inspection and are usually processed within 5-7 working days.

All fires in the open must be extinguished by nightfall, or as specified on the permit.

At high-risk times we may change the restricted status to a prohibited season, banning outdoor fires completely.

Fire permit not required

These activities are permitted under the bylaw, but note some conditions apply:

  • Gas-fuelled barbecues and charcoal barbecues started with a liquid accelerant and fuelled by charcoal briquettes only, can be used anywhere at any time
  • Non-gas barbeques on private property at any time
  • Braziers and chimeneas can be used if placed on a non-flammable surface.

Fire permit required

You need a permit for any open fire, including the following outdoor activities:

  • hangi
  • umu
  • traditional cooking fires
  • beach fire

Beach fire permit

You need a permit to light open fires or non-gas barbecues on a beach.

After receiving an application for a permit, an Officer will visit the beach to check the site is appropriate and discuss the fire arrangements with the applicant. If the permit is issued, the Officer may also add special conditions to the standard permit conditions. 

Changes to the Fire Protection Bylaw

Burning vegetation, household waste (including paper and wood) through open burning, an incinerator or fire pit will only be permitted where special circumstances that make the disposal of waste materials impossible can be demonstrated.

Council has the discretion to issue permits or not – breaches to the bylaw under these circumstances risk prosecution under the provisions of the Local Government Act 2002.

Apply for a fire permit

The Council processes fire permits:

  • Beach - free
  • Residential properties - $25
  • Developers - $50


Fire permit application form 2015 (44KB PDF)

Fire permit applications usually take 5-7 working days to process and can be paid for in the Council Service Centre at 101 Wakefield Street.

Rural fire permit

The Wellington Rural Fire Authority processes rural fire permits - to find out more and apply for one, go to: Wellington Rural Fire Authority

Outdoor fire tips

  • Get a permit in advance
  • Light fires in a clear area
  • Do not light fires in strong winds
  • Supervise the fire at all times
  • Always have a water supply for fire-fighting handy
  • Use a sturdy metal container with good ventilation
  • Use a fine mesh guard over the container to prevent burning debris and embers from escaping.