Fires On The Beach And 17 More Surprises In the Tauranga City Council Bylaws

I thought it might be interesting to familiarise myself with Tauranga City Councils bylaws.

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But first, what is a Bylaw?

“The Council’s Bylaws are special laws that apply in the Tauranga area only. The bylaws help the Council make sure the city runs smoothly. Examples of activities controlled under existing bylaws include dog ownership and liquor free zones in public places.”

Second, what is their purpose?

Bylaws exist:

  1. to protect the public from nuisance
  2. to protect, promote and maintain public health and safety
  3. to minimise the potential for offensive behaviour in public places
  4. if specifically required by legislation

Altogether they are 520 pages long, but 325 pages of that is the Traffic and Parking Bylaw 2012 which includes almost 300 pages of attachments which are just lists of streets that:

  • Have one-way traffic
  • Shared paths
  • Special vehicle lanes
  • Where engine braking is prohibited
  • That are restricted to Heavy Motor Vehicles
  • Every parking area
  • Every motorcycle park
  • Every street with a loading zone

But the biggest section of all was a 222 page list of every street in the city where there is no stopping/standing of vehicles which is marked with dashed yellow lines painted on the road.

Third, are they enforced?

Every bylaw included this section which indicates that the council may waive compliance with these bylaw’s as it sees fit:

Power to waive compliance
The Council may waive full compliance with any provision of this Bylaw in a case
where the Council is of the opinion that full compliance would needlessly cause harm, loss or inconvenience to any person without any corresponding benefit to the community.  The Council may in its discretion impose conditions of any such waiver.

Now, let’s take a look at 18 bylaws I found most interesting:

#1. No person shall remove sand from the beach

Beaches Bylaw 2007

I’ve thought about building a sandpit for my kids one day and pictured myself filling up the boot of my car with lovely free sand.

I suspected that might not be an option and that has now been confirmed.

6.1  No person shall remove, for commercial, landscaping or building  purposes, any
stone, shingle, sand, boulders, silt, mud, shell or other material from any part of the beach or foreshore except pursuant to a licence issued by the Council or if otherwise authorised by law.

#2. You may light a fire on the beach

Beaches Bylaw 2007


I’ve seen a bit of charcoal on the beach from time to time and just assumed someone had sneaked onto the beech to light a fire, but I had no idea it was permitted.

There are a few conditions:

13.1 Fires may be lit between 5am and 11pm. All fires must be below the high tide
mark, be less than 1 meter in diameter and must be under supervision at all times. The person lighting the fire must ensure there is some form of extinguishment available and the fire must be extinguished with water before leaving it. All litter and dangerous debris must be removed.

#3. You can’t have more than 2 dogs at home

Dog Control Bylaw 2008

However, you can get an extra licence from Council if you want more than 2 dogs.

7.1 No occupier of premises other than areas zoned rural shall keep more than two
dogs  over  the  age  of  three  months  at  any  one  time,  unless  that  person  holds  a licence from Council to do so.

#4. Don’t use the rubbish bins if you are freedom camping

Freedom Camping Bylaw 2013

How many times does this bylaw get broken? What are freedom campers suppose to do with their rubbish? Fill up a council approved rubbish bag specific to the city and take it to a transfer station for deposit? I can’t see that happening.

Here’s a bit more detail:

3.1. Freedom camping is permitted in the areas set out in Schedule 1, subject to the following restrictions and conditions:
(d)  No depositing in or around a public litter receptacle of any household refuse;
(e)  All waste and litter generated must be removed from the area;

#5. There are 27 Reserves and Parks where Freedom Camping is allowed

There are a few restrictions on this. For example, at Ferguson Park in Matua (just down the road from where I live), only 3 vehicles are allowed and only between Sunday and Thursday.

Plus all council carparks are open for freedom campers:

  • The vehicle must fit in the confines of the marked parking space
  • The vehicle must be less than 3.5 tonnes
  • Maunganui Road Car Park is excluded

Freedom camping is not permitted in 2 of the most desirable areas in the city:

  1. The Mall (the entire length of Pilot Bay)
  2. Marine Parade (the entire length of the ocean side of the Mount all the way to the roundabout intersection with Ocean Beach Road and Tweed St

If you have ever walked or cycled or driven in these 2 areas early in the morning or late at night you will know how frequently this bylaw is broken.

I’m very glad it is seldom enforced. Imagine the negative impression those freedom campers would form of our city if we slapped them with tickets.

There is also a list of 41 reserves and parks are listed where Freedom Camping is not permitted.

#6. You can have 12 chickens at home, but no pigs, goats, bees or roosters

Keeping of Animals Bylaw 2008

Tempted to have a few chickens or goats at your suburban home?

I’d love to have a few chickens at home for fresh eggs every morning. But I would like them to be able to free-range around the place during the day instead of being locked up in a small cage/run.

You can apply for a special license, but otherwise, the rules are:

  • No pigs
  • No goats
  • No bees
  • You can have up to 12 chickens, but not free-range, they must be kept in their cage/run
  • No roosters
  • You can have up to 3 pet bantam hens and they don’t need to be confined all the time
  • No horses or cattle unless your property is big enough to keep them 10m away from any building and 3m away from any fence
  • Sheep are not mentioned

Here are the details:

3.1 No  person  shall  keep,  or  permit  or  suffer  to  remain,  on  any  premises,  except  in areas  zoned  rural  in  the  Tauranga  District  Plan,  any  pigs  or  goats,  provided however that with the written consent of the authorised officer, pigs and goats may be kept for such time and on such conditions as indicated in the consent.
4.1 No person shall keep bees if, in the opinion of  the authorised officer, the keeping
of such bees is or is likely to become, a nuisance or annoyance to any person or dangerous or injurious to health.
4.2 No  person  shall  keep  any  poultry  unless  they  are  kept  on  the  owner’s  property; and
(a) any poultry house or run is constructed at least 10 metres from any dwelling  or  workplace, or 3 metres from  any boundary of  adjoining land; and poultry; and repair,  clean  and  free  from  any  offensive  smell,  rats,  vermin  or overflow therefrom.
(b) the  poultry  house  and  run  are  so  constructed  as  to  confine  the poultry;
(c) and the  poultry  house  and  run  are  maintained  at  all  times  in  good repair, clean and free from any offensive smell, rats, vermin or overflow therfrom.

4.3 No person shall keep more than 12 head of  poultry on any premises of  less than
1,000 square metres in area, except with a licence from Council.
4.4 The provisions of this clause shall not apply to the keeping of not more than three
hen bantams as pets.
4.5 No person shall keep any rooster in the District, if in the opinion of the authorised
officer, the keeping of such rooster is causing a nuisance or an annoyance to any other person.
5.4 No person shall keep or suffer to be kept, any horse or cattle, at any less distance
than 10 metres from any dwelling, shop, warehouse, factory, workshop, church or school,  or  any  less  distance  than  3  metres  from  the  boundary  of  adjoining premises

#7. You can have a bonfire in your backyard if it doesn’t cause a smoke or ash nuisance

Outdoor Fire Safety Bylaw 2015

Ever been tempted to burn off a big pile of leaves?

During the day you can do so if your fire is not a “smoke or ash nuisance to any person or property” because you’ve chosen a good, safe location, and the wind direction and strength is ideal.

At night you can light a fire if you have a “non-combustible receptacle”, otherwise you’ll need the fire approved by council before you light it.

When I was visiting homes in Judea last week I came out of a driveway and smoke was filling the street. I could smell leaves and branches but perhaps some burning plastic in the air too. About 40 home visits later I find the source of the fire about 2 blocks away. I would say the smoke was a nuisance to his neighbours, but I wonder if anyone made a complaint that night?

Here are the details:

5.1  No person may light or allow to be lit, any Outdoor Fire in the Urban Fire District in
any of the following circumstances:
(a)  Where the location, wind, or other conditions, cause, or are likely to cause
the Outdoor Fire to become:
(i)  a danger to any person or property; or
(ii)  out  of  control  or  to  spread  beyond  the  limits  of  the  property  on

(iii)  a smoke or ash nuisance to any person or property; or which it is lit; or
(iv)  a hazard to road traffic.
(e)  Between  the  hours  of sunset  and  sunrise,  no  person  may  light  or  allow  to be lit, any Outdoor Fire on any Private Land unless the fire is:
(i)  an Outdoor Fire approved by Council;
(ii)  contained  within  a  non-combustible  receptacle  or  appliance 
designed  to  be  used  in  the  outdoors  for  cooking,  heating  or amenity; or
(iii)  Fireworks.

#8. Your neighbours can’t advertise their brothel with neon signs

Prostitution Bylaw 2008: 5.1

Ever suspected that one of your neighbours is running a brothel?

It is perfectly legal to do so, but under this bylaw, in a residential zone there can’t be any signage at all.

5.1  No person shall place, or allow to remain in place, on or in any building or structure in
a residential zone (as defined in any Tauranga District Plan in force for the time being) a sign which advertises or informs the public of a brothel (including a brothel involving only one person operating in his or her own residence).

In a commercial zone the sign cannot be neon or flashing.

5.3  Council will not grant an approval for a sign provided for under Clause 5.2 if one or
more of the following applies: 
a)  the sign contains neon lighting or includes or is lit by flashing lights; or
involving only one person operating in his or her own residence).

#9. Every food stall needs a wash-hand basin with 38 degree water

Public Health Bylaw 2006: 2.2

Is this for real? Every food stall needs access to 38 degree water and a wash basin? Are there any food stalls that actually meet this criteria or are they all in breach?

2.2.i.  Every food stall shall be equipped with a wash-hand basin attached to a sealed container for holding waste water prior to its disposal into a foul water drainage system. The basin shall be provided with a nail brush and an adequate supply of soap or detergent and hand drying facilities. An adequate pipe supply of water to the basin at a minimum temperature in the basin of 38 degrees Celsius shall also be provided.

#10. Geothermal pools must be emptied every day

Public Health Bylaw 2006: 5.2

I’m a huge fan of geothermal pools. So much so I built a website dedicated to hot pools in 2006. I’ve known about the practice of emptying the pools every day but didn’t really understand why it was done, and now I see it is prescribed by the New Zealand Standard Pool Quality NZS 5826:2000 and repeated in this bylaw.

5.2  A geothermal pool shall be emptied at least daily and the sides and
bottom brushed with chlorine solution (50g of calcium hypochlorite per 10l of water) and then washed down with clean water.

#11. No scooters in the CBD between Durham and The Strand, between Hamilton St and Elizabeth Street

Tauranga Street Use and Public Places Bylaw 2013

When I don’t ride my bicycle to work, I use a bus and scooter combo. On those days I often scooter around town for errands. I am always conscientious and careful around pedestrians but on one occasion I did give an elderly person a fright when I came up behind her.

This bylaw included a map of a prohibited area for skateboards, scooters and roller skates, and is exactly the area where I have been scootering. I don’t recall seeing any signage advising of this ban, but now I know.

Much of Greerton also has a scooter ban, as does the main shopping road down Maunganui Rd.

6.1  No person shall ride or use a skateboard, scooter, roller skates or similar device in any Public Place in such a manner as to be dangerous or cause a nuisance.
6.2  Council may by resolution determine areas where riding or using a skateboard,

scooter, roller skates or similar device is prohibited (a Prohibited Area).

#12. No handing out printed material in public without permission from Council

Tauranga Street Use and Public Places Bylaw 2013

Ever been tempted to hand out a few flyers on the street for an event or promotion?

14.4  No person shall distribute printed or written advertising material in any Public
Place without prior written permission from Council.

#13. No singing in public without permission from Council

Tauranga Street Use and Public Places Bylaw 2013

Ever been tempted to burst into song in public when you think of your favourite song? Or educate your fellow citizens at the top of your voice on a topic that you are an expert on?

17.1. No person, without the prior written permission of Council shall:
(d)  Preach, sing, make or perform music, lecture or busk in a Public Place

#14. No building a house for yourself in a public place

Tauranga Street Use and Public Places Bylaw 2013

I have ridden past the shack that a man has made for himself in the bush below 9th Avenue, beside Takitimu Drive, and under this bylaw he seems to be in breach but he hasn’t been removed by council/police.

20.1  No person without the prior written consent of Council, shall, except where otherwise provided for in the City Plan or relevant Reserve Management Plan. (a)  Erect, construct, or place any building, dwelling or other structure or erection whatsoever, or any part thereof under, on, above, or across any Public Place.

#15. No giving away your pre-paid parking stub to a stranger

Traffic and Parking Bylaw 2012

Have you ever returned to your car early and given your pre-paid parking stub to a stranger?

That is not permitted.

14.6  Pay and Display Parking Meter receipts are not transferable or refundable.

#16. Council vehicles get free parking in the city

Traffic and Parking Bylaw 2012

A few weeks ago there was a news article about people complaining that they see council vehicles filling on street parking spaces in the CBD but they didn’t bother to pre-pay for their parking. Under this bylaw that is perfectly fine.

15.1  The driver or person in charge of any of the following vehicles may park free of
charge in any parking space within a Pay and Display area:
(e)  A branded Tauranga City Council vehicle used by any officer engaged in work
for the Council.

#17. There are 31 roads where you may not sell your car on the side of the road

Traffic and Parking Bylaw 2012

See attachment 8 for the entire list. Prohibited roads include the entire length of:

  • Chapel Street
  • Domain Road
  • Fifteenth Ave
  • Girven Road
  • Grey Street
  • Marine Parade
  • The Strand
  • Turret Road
  • Willow, Wharf & Durham Streets

#18. Ever put your rubbish out the night before collection day?

Waste Management and Minimisation Bylaw 2012

You may not do that under this bylaw.

5.1  No occupier or other person may put waste (including recyclables) out for collection from the road unless:
(b)  The approved container is placed in an approved place on the day for 

Your Thoughts?

Were any of these bylaws a surprise to you?

Have you observed them being enforced?

Have your say in the comments section below.

2 thoughts on “Fires On The Beach And 17 More Surprises In the Tauranga City Council Bylaws”

  1. Hello Sheldon. As a wannabe member of local council I challenge you to do another article on the actual relevance of these by-laws and how they came about. All I have seen this article do is put people against council and say how stupid the by-laws are. Most of them were put in place for a good reason and some you have miss represented above such as not allowed to keep bees.

    You CAN keep bees (and Roosters actually), the by-law is worded to enable the council to take action if they are causing a problem.

    As a member of council I would expect you to be presenting factual information and representing the best options for the whole community, not putting down the council and miss communicating for sensationalism.
    Steve Nicholson

    1. You make a great point Steve, on Neighbourly I over-simplified what I had discovered, and for those people that didn’t take the time to read through my entire article or study the bylaws themselves, many people reacted in the way you described. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

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