How wildfires start
Wildfires in rural areas can kill, injure, and cause huge economic losses. Most vegetation fires:
- start outside a forest
- are caused by someone’s actions – 99% of wildfires are caused by humans.
The main causes of wildfires are:
- burn offs
- rubbish fires
- bonfires and fireworks
- equipment like electric fences.
Extra risks from people new to rural life
If you're visiting a rural area or have bought a lifestyle block, take extra care by learning:
- what activities pose the greatest fire risks
- how fires can get out of control
- what equipment and plans you need to prevent a fire starting or spreading.
What you can do to prevent summer wildfires
Wildfires do not follow property boundaries. In the right conditions, embers can be blown up to 2km and start new fires.
If you live in, or visit, rural areas, check the fire weather and fire season status before you start any outdoor activities.
- Use the Fire and Emergency's 'Check it's alright' website to see how dry things are in your area.
- Know where your local fire danger sign is – this tells you how dry the area is and if you need a permit to light a fire.
Advice and guidance to prevent summer wildfires
'Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service' works with Fire and Emergency New Zealand, the forestry sector, and the wider rural sector. Together, we develop and distribute fire prevention messaging, including on the Canopy website.
Fire and Emergency NZ
Fire and Emergency NZ are responsible for managing fires. Check its website for resources on:
- rural living
- preparing for summer
- fire permits
- burn plans.
Your local fire staff or brigade have programmes for community education and can:
- offer specific advice
- present to schools and community groups
- attend local events.
The Forest Owners Association
The Forest Owners Association provides risk management and information on preparing for the fire season in rural areas.
Science Learning Hub – Pokapu Akoranga Putaiao
The Science Learning Hub has an interactive tool about fires. It highlights the environmental factors of rural fires.
Fires and animals
Animals, such as farm livestock, wildlife, and pets often get caught in wildfires. Staff fom the Ministry for Primary Industries respond to many adverse events in the rural sector. They can provide advice and help, depending on the event.
Who to contact
If you have questions about the information on this page, email firstname.lastname@example.org