Fire in an outdoor fire place.
Image: Christina Wray | Creative Commons


Find out when and where you can light fires at huts, campsites and in the backcountry on public conservation land.

On this page:

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.

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

Some vegetation types are inherently prone to burning regardless of season. Be careful lighting around:

  • long grass
  • manuka
  • gorse
  • tussockland.

Check if there's 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 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 the fire season at FENZ:

  1. Use the Can I light a fire? tool
  2. Choose "Campfires".
  3. Specify where and when you intend to light the fire.
  4. The fire season status will display.
    • If it's "Prohibited", that means there is a fire ban. You can't light any fires.
    • If it's "Restricted", you can only light fires on public conservation land according to the conditions on this page.

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, for example fish smokers using methylated spirits.

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

How to be safe using gas cookers outside.

Extinguish fires before leaving a site

Douse the campfire with lots of water. If there’s no water around, use dirt to put out the embers. Don’t bury your campfire ashes – the embers could smoulder and reignite.

Give your gas cooker time to cool down completely before moving it or putting it away in your tent, hut, pack or vehicle.

You need a permit for bonfires and other types of fire

On public conservation land, you can not light any other types of fire (including bonfires, charcoal bbqs, umu/hangi fires, and fireworks) unless you have a permit from FENZ.

Permits in these cases are usually not granted.

Get fire safety advice

Visit Check it's alright before lighting a fire to check it's safe, and get advice on reducing fire risks. 

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