Permissions application process
IntroductionImportant information you need to know about the application process for permissions.
Applications over the holiday period
We will stop working on permit and concession applications from 20 December 2023 and restart on 11 January 2024 due to our statutory close-down period. DOC offices will close on 22 December 2023 and reopen on 3 January 2024.
Activities that need permissions
Permissions are needed for the following activities on public conservation lands or waters:
- Sports events
- Activities involving marine mammals or wildlife
- Scientific research in Marine reserves
- Mining, exploration or prospecting for minerals
- Research and collection
- Hunting and fishing
- Accesses and permission to access certain reserves and Maritime Parks
- Transferring or releasing aquatic life
- Taking a dog with you
- Fire use
- Taoka species in Otago
‘Concessions’ are granted under the Conservation Act 1987 and include leases, licences, permits and easements.
‘Authorisations’ are granted under the Wildlife Act 1953 to interact with wildlife (including catch, hold, release or kill wildlife).
Permits granted under the Crown Minerals Act 1991 from New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals for activities such as prospecting, exploration or mining. You will also need to apply for an ‘Access arrangement’ from DOC for access to public conservation land.
Permits granted under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 if you want to undertake commercial activities involving marine mammals, or you want to take, hold, import or export marine mammals.
We understand applying for a permission can be a little tricky. To ensure your application goes smoothly, we advise you to contact us to have a pre-application meeting.
We’ll help you to:
- understand the permission you will need to apply for
- navigate our statutory planning documents, so you can consider whether the activity you wish to undertake is consistent with them
- understand DOC’s responsibility to give effect to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, which requires consultation with Treaty Partners on most applications. If you wish, DOC can help you contact the local iwi, hapū, and whānau to assess whether your proposed activity will have any cultural effects. Often this consultation can enhance the activity you are considering.
Types of concession
Depending on what you want to do and when and how you do it, you will either need a one-off concession or a longer-term concession.
- One-off concessions are for a period of no longer than three months, have only minor environmental effects, clearly defined limits, do not involve permanent structures and will not take place in the same location more than once in any three-year period.
- Longer-term concessions are for activities undertaken for more than three months, or shorter term activities that don’t meet the other criteria for a one-off concession.
One-off concessions are generally processed in shorter timeframes by the local DOC office nearest the location of the activity you are applying for will be undertaken. Timeframes depend on whether iwi consultation is required.
Other permissions and any that include wildlife will be processed by Permissions teams in either Hamilton, Hokitika, Christchurch or Dunedin.
The application process is an iterative process that involves gathering information, analysis, assessment of effects and very often consultation with iwi/hapū/whānau regarding the proposed activity.
While there are some permission-specific steps within an application process, generally a similar process applies.
Some of the key steps in the application process:
- receive application
- advisor assesses application
- advisor engages with local team and relevant technical specialists
- advisor does a statutory analysis to ensure the activity is consistent with the relevant statutory document and legislation
- timeframe for decision outlined once consultation requirements known, and requests for the further information identified
- advisor contacts applicant and provides cost estimate
- advisor undertakes an analysis of the activity, its term, where it will occur and its potential effects
- DOC consults with relevant iwi/hapū/whānau
- advisor prepares documents for decision to statutory decision maker
- decision made and communicated.
Important points about the process
Your activity needs to be consistent with statutory requirements
DOC undertakes a statutory analysis to ensure the proposed activity is consistent with relevant legislation and statutory planning documents.
Your activity will be assessed for adverse effects
DOC does an analysis of the effects of the proposed activity and provide conditions and measures to avoid, remedy or mitigate adverse effects. You are also encouraged to think about actions you can take to do the same when completing your application form. Conditions are applied to all permissions to manage effects.
We consult with iwi/hapū/whānau on most applications
In general, it takes around 40 working days to receive iwi, hapu and whānau feedback on an application. If there are considerable values and interests to consider, more time may be required to support informed decision-making on the application. In some areas consultation can take much longer.
Section 4 of the Conservation Act states “this Act shall be so interpreted and administered as to give effect to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi”. This includes promoting the interests of iwi/hapū/whānau regarding local wāhi tapu/sacred sites and taonga/native species and supporting them to contribute to decisions about activities occurring within their tribal boundary.
An important principle where permissions are concerned is informed decision-making. Informed decision-making means both DOC and iwi/hapū/whānau are aware of each other’s interests and concerns in any application process. We need to know about any interests that may be affected by an activity, and/or location, proposed in a permission application.
Full information needs to be provided in your application to enable iwi, hapū or whānau to contribute to this decision-making process. This is connected closely to the treaty principles of good faith and active protection.
Provide as much detail as you can
Particularly provide detail about the locations and frequency of your activity.
Applications with insufficient detail can cause delays in processing. DOC may request further information, and if you do not send the required information within a reasonable timeframe or do not reply within the timeframe, your application can be returned under section 17SD(4) of the Conservation Act 1987.
Processing times can vary
It is important you are aware of typical processing application times when planning your activity.
Things that can affect processing time include:
- the complexity of the application
- whether the activity is a one-off concession or a longer-term concession.
- whether the activity needs to be publicly notified or not.
- the level of engagement that is required with iwi/ hapū/whānau.
There are fees associated with the permission process
There is a fee for processing your application. This is charged whether or not your application is successful. It varies depending on the complexity of the activity you are applying for, and whether your application needs to be notified or not, because DOC staff time is cost recovered.
The minimum fee charged is:
- Concessions – non-notified: $2,065 plus GST
- Concessions – complex non-notified: $2,565 plus GST
- Concessions – notified: $3,425 plus GST
- Wildlife authorities: cost is dependent on processing time and charge out rate
- Research and collection: cost is dependent on processing time and charge out rate
- Minimum impact activity (Crown Minerals Act): $850 plus GST
- Access arrangements (prospecting, exploration and mining)
- low impact: $2,150 plus GST
- medium impact: $3,000-$30,000 plus GST
- high impact: $50,000-$100,000 plus GST.
There is also a fee for the public notification process. The fee for notification is at least $3,425. Costs can be higher, dependent on:
- whether the application needs to be advertised in a local newspaper or the daily newspapers published in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin
- the number of submissions received
- if hearings are required
- if further staff time needs to be covered.
More information about the public notification process
You may need to pay ongoing fees
Ongoing fees depend on the type of permission you are seeking. They can include an annual management fee, activity fees, and a monitoring fee to monitor the effects of your activity and your compliance with authorised terms and conditions.
These will be outlined by DOC before your permission is issued.