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There will always be noise in any neighbourhood. This is usually only a problem if people or businesses are being very loud or if they’re trying to be annoying.

What happens if you’re making too much noise at home?

Resource Management Act 1991, s 326

You have the right to do normal things in your home, including have parties.

If a neighbour thinks you’re making too much noise, they can complain to the Environmental Health section of their local council. An enforcement officer will usually come and investigate.

In practice, whether an enforcement officer thinks the noise is “excessive” (too much) might depend on the time of day. You can usually have normal party noise in the evening but after 10pm or 11pm (depending on your local council’s policy) you should turn the music right down.

Some practical advice: get to know your neighbours, and be friendly. People are much less likely to complain if they know and like you. Also, if you know your neighbours have young children, or someone who’s ill, or needs peace and quiet for any particular reason, you might be able to think of ways to avoid being too noisy or find a compromise that works for everyone.

Note: Excessive noise is “noise under human control and of such a nature as to unreasonably interfere with the peace, comfort, and convenience of any person (other than a person in, or at, the place from which the noise is being emitted)”. But it doesn’t include noise from aircrafts, vehicles on the road, or trains.

Excessive noise directions from the local council for short-term problems

Resource Management Act 1991, ss 327, 328

If an enforcement officer from the local council thinks you’re making too much noise (for example, loud music at a party), they can issue you an Excessive Noise Direction (“END”), ordering you to reduce the noise to a reasonable level.

The direction takes effect straightaway and lasts for three days (72 hours).

If you don’t obey that direction, the enforcement officer can come back with the police and take away the source of the noise, like your stereo or other sound equipment.

Abatement notices from the local council for ongoing problems

Resource Management Act 1991, ss 322–325B

Unlike excessive noise directions, councils usually issue abatement notices in response to ongoing noise problems that can’t be reduced immediately – for example, noise from a factory. Usually a council will have measured noise levels over a period of time.

An enforcement officer can issue an abatement notice where there is unreasonable noise that’s having an adverse effect on the environment.

What is “unreasonable” noise will depend on local council standards set out in rules, plans and resource consents.

The abatement notice requires the person responsible to stop the unreasonable noise or reduce it to a reasonable level within a specified period. An abatement notice can order that an occupier of land adopt the best practical option of ensuring that noise does not exceed a reasonable level.

The notice lasts indefinitely, unless the local council cancels it, or the notice is successfully appealed in the Environment Court.

Enforcement orders from the courts

Resource Management Act 1991, ss 314–321

Anyone can apply to the Environment Court for an enforcement order to stop an activity that causes, or may cause, excessive or unreasonable noise. Generally, the person applying will need expert advice (for example, from an acoustic consultant) about the levels of noise.

What if I hear family violence in my neighbourhood?

If you or someone else is in immediate danger, you can call the police by dialling 111. If you’re worried that somebody in your neighbourhood is experiencing ongoing family violence, you can call your local police station or 105 (the non-emergency number for the police). There are also different helplines you can call for advice, including:

  • Shine helpline: 0508 744 633
  • It’s Not Ok information line: 0800 456 450
  • Women’s refuge crisis line: 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843.

See the chapter “Family violence and elder abuse” for more information.

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Neighbourhood life

Where to go for more support

General information about neighbourhood issues

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online:

Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)

CAB provides free, confidential and independent information and advice. Your local CAB may be able to help you work your way through a problem with your neighbour.

Phone: 0800 367 222

Find your local CAB office:

Consumer NZ

Consumer NZ provides information on a range of neighbourhood problems.

Phone: 0800 266 786

Help in Wellington

Downtown Community Ministry (DCM) is the leading social service in Wellington working with people who are experiencing homelessness – in particular, those who are rough sleeping or without shelter.

Phone: 0800 119 689

Support in Christchurch

The Christchurch City Mission provides emergency beds to people in Christchurch that have nowhere else to go. They also have Whakaora Kāinga transitional housing, which provides communal transitional living.

Phone: 0800 787 855
Whakaora Kāinga:

Support in Dunedin

Dunedin Night Shelter provides emergency accommodation and a transitional housing programme in Dunedin.

Email: info@dunedinnightshelter
Phone: 0800 745 569

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