If you’re in a campground, then ask the landowners as they may have designated areas and rules of their own.
Department of Conservation Campsites
DOC campsites have a restricted fire season all year round, this means you can only light a fire if there is no fire ban in place AND you use a designated fireplace or fire pit. You are most definitely NOT allowed to run about lighting random campfires!
If you are camping in DOC ‘backcountry’ areas (over an hours walk from the nearest road end), you are only allowed to light a fire if there is no fire ban in place, there are no notices prohibiting fires and your fire is at least 3 metres from combustible materials like trees, grass or undergrowth. The fire also must be under .5 metre in width and height.
Beaches & Riverbeds
Beaches are subject to permits too and a campfire can’t be lit at all during a total fire ban. Again, check the checkitsalright.nz site, as different councils have different rules. If you ARE allowed to light a campfire on your favourite beach, keep in mind that beaches are windy, so stay well away from dunes and flammable seagrasses. It’s a good idea to light the fire below the high tide line, so hotspots beneath the sand won’t become an issue. Contain your fire to a barbecue, within a stone circle or dig the fire into a hollow so the wind can’t spread hot embers. Remember, a campfire isn’t a bonfire, so don’t get too ambitious! If you’re by a riverbed and you’re tempted to use river stones, be careful, wet river stones can explode at high temperatures.