2 Nov 2022

Guy Fawkes Day fireworks: Here's what you need to know about the rules

6:45 pm on 2 November 2022

By Sapeer Mayron of Stuff

No caption.

It's fireworks season as New Zealand approaches Guy Fawkes Day on Saturday. File photo. Photo: 123RF

They're bright, loud and spectacular, but it doesn't take much for fireworks to turn into a nightmare.

With Guy Fawkes Day on Saturday fireworks are on sale and whānau and city councils are gearing up for the annual celebrations of fireworks, bonfires and parties.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand has said with high winds forecast across Aotearoa, people should take extreme caution this year, or better yet - leave the fireworks displays to those put on by professionals.

"If you do choose to light your own, remember we need everyone to do their part to help keep our communities safe this Guy Fawkes," community education manager Adrian Nacey said.

"You don't want to be the person responsible for damaging a person, property or the environment by not being careful with fireworks."

If you do want to set off your own fireworks, you can buy them from certain retailers for three days only: from 2 November until 5 November.

You must be 18-years-old or older to buy fireworks - even sparklers, which can only be bought with other fireworks, not on their own.

So what are the rules on Guy Fawkes Day? Here's what you need to know to avoid a visit from the local firefighters:

Āe (yes):

  • Stick to your own backyard - if you are lighting your own fireworks, you must do that at home. Breaching this rule could earn you a fine up to $20,000
  • Light fireworks on a calm evening, not a windy one. Wind can turn sparks into flames and even fully blown fires. If it's especially dry around you, it could be risky too
  • Keep a bucket of water or a hose nearby, and have someone at the ready to use it and put out any pesky fires. Then soak all your used fireworks in water before you throw them away
  • Let your neighbours know what your plans are, and keep pets inside

Kāore (no):

  • Lighting fireworks in public parks is not allowed. No popping down to the local playground or football field for the extra room - if you don't have space at home, you don't have space
  • Alcohol and fireworks don't mix well. Drinking? Leave the fireworks displays to the sober ones. Or better yet, to the professionals. Plus, children should never light fireworks - adults only
  • Fireworks go up, not sideways. Don't point fireworks at other people. And if they don't go off when they are meant to, don't inspect them too closely or relight them
  • The Environmental Protection Authority, which manages firework rules, said it's not clear if fireworks stay safe when they are stored. Don't hang on to unused fireworks for next year
Fireworks from the Auckland Sky Tower during New Year's Eve celebrations on 1 January 2021.

Fireworks from the Auckland Sky Tower during New Year's Eve celebrations on 1 January 2021. File photo. Photo: 2020 Getty Images

Some parts of New Zealand have specific rules you need to follow. Here's what you need to know:

In Northland, there is a temporary ban on private fireworks in the Karikari Peninsula, Ahipara township and surrounding areas.

The ban runs from 2 November until 30 April next year, in order to reduce the risk of wildfires.

"Ahipara and the Karikari peninsula are dry and windy, with sandy soil and flammable vegetation - all of which increase the fire danger and risk of a wildfire getting out of control," District Manager Wipari Henwood said.

A wildfire in Waiharara, north of Kaitāia, has been burning for over 10 months, and has been called one of the most challenging and complex fires in New Zealand in decades.

In Tāmaki Makaurau, fireworks can only be lit between 5pm and 10.30pm on private property, any day during the year.

Year-long, there is an absolute ban on lighting fireworks on Auckland maunga, in forests, conservation areas and on roads, berms and footpaths.

When it comes to bonfires, Auckland council must give approval before any bonfires are lit on public land like beaches and parks. When it comes to your own residential private land, you may not light bonfires ever.

People watch fireworks during New Year's Eve celebrations in Christchurch on 1January 2021. 

If you do want to set off your own fireworks, you can buy them from certain retailers for three days only: from November 02 until November 05, Guy Fawkes Day. Photo: AFP / NurPhoto

Rurally though, bonfires are allowed during the Guy Fawkes' period (2-5 November) but must be extinguished before nightfall.

There is a high risk of fire in the Queenstown Lakes District, and there are several year-round fire bans in place. They are in the Queenstown Red, Pig Island, Albert Town reserve and campground, Coronet Forest, Mt Iron, Pigeon Island and Ruby Island.

Still not sure what to do? Visit checkitsalright.nz for information and help.

*This story originally appeared on Stuff

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