How to File a Noise Complaint in New Zealand

How to File a Noise Complaint in New Zealand

You know when you’ve had a long day at work and just want to relax at home but are met with blaring music from the neighbor? 

Here’s the thing: you actually have the right to complain about it to the authorities. 

Today, we’ll guide you through the process of filing a noise complaint in New Zealand, so you can reclaim your solitude and get back to enjoying your quiet time.

What are my rights as a resident when it comes to noise disturbances in New Zealand?

Legal rights as resident when it comes to noise disturbances in New Zealand

As a resident of New Zealand, you have the legal right to make a noise complaint to your local council if you are being disturbed by noise pollution. This way, you can practice your right to enjoy tranquility in your own home. 

That’s right, excessive noise is not just annoying: it’s also against the law.

This means you shouldn’t have to endure excessive noise in your own home. Lucky for us, the Resource Management Act (RMA) provides regulations for noise pollution in New Zealand.

Basically, the RMA sets limits on how much noise is acceptable in different areas at different times of the day. 

For instance, if you live in a residential area, noise levels should not go over 40 decibels during the night. 

So, if you’re being disturbed by loud noises, remember that you have rights as a resident and that there are regulations in place to protect you.

You can file a noise complaint with your local council or the police. By doing so, you can protect your rights as a resident and ensure that the noise disturbance is dealt with appropriately.

What kind of noise do they take action on in New Zealand?

What kind of noise do they take action on in New Zealand

Noise complaints in New Zealand are taken seriously, and action will be taken if the noise is deemed to be a nuisance and affects the health or well-being of the community. 

In New Zealand, the kind of noise you can file a complaint on includes excessive noise from construction work, industrial equipment, commercial activities, loud music or parties, and barking dogs or other animal noises that go on for an extended period.

Below are further details on the kinds of noise that can prompt action from the council, including how they can be considered a nuisance and lead to a complaint.

Excessive noise from construction work, industrial equipment, or commercial activitiesThis type of noise can include loud and repetitive sounds from jackhammers, drilling, or heavy machinery. 
It can also involve commercial activities such as deliveries or waste collection that cause disturbances outside of typical business hours. 
These types of noises can be disruptive to nearby residents, causing stress and impacting their daily activities.
Loud music or partiesThis can refer to music that is played loudly or parties that are excessively noisy and occur late at night.
These noises can be especially disruptive to people who are trying to sleep or who need a quiet environment to study or work. 
They can also affect the overall quality of life in a neighborhood.
Barking dogs or other animal noisesThis can include any type of animal noise that is excessive and continuous, such as barking, howling, or squawking. 
These noises can be very irritating to nearby residents, especially if they occur at night or for extended periods of time. 
They can also be a source of anxiety or fear for people who have experienced trauma related to animals.
Other noise that affects the health or well-being of the communityThis can include a wide range of noises that may be unique to a particular situation. 
For example, it could involve loud and persistent alarms or sirens that are not related to emergency situations or noises that are caused by faulty equipment or machinery. 
In general, any noise that is deemed to be a nuisance and impacts the health or well-being of the community can be considered a valid complaint.

How do you file a noise complaint in New Zealand?

How to file noise complaint in New Zealand
DifficultyModerately easy ●●○○○
Number of steps5
Time to performA few hours to a few weeks
Things you needPaper and pen
Any digital device (laptop, phone, or tablet)

To file a noise complaint in New Zealand, you need to report the issue to your local council or the police. They will investigate the matter and take appropriate action to resolve the noise disturbance.

Frankly, filing a noise complaint might sound intimidating, but don’t worry, it’s easier than you think! With a few simple steps, you can take action and regain peace and quiet in your home.

STEP 1. Gather information.

Gather information

The first step in filing a noise complaint is to gather all relevant information about the noise disturbance. This includes the following:

  1. Source of the noise
  2. The time and duration of the disturbance
  3. The impact of the noise on you (e.g., difficulty concentrating while working, disturbance during sleep, etc.)

Don’t forget to take note of any details that can help support your complaint. For example:

  • Is the noise coming from a specific property or vehicle? 
  • Does it happen at a certain time of day or night? 
  • Are there witnesses who can support your complaint, such as your neighbors who have also been disturbed by the noise? 

Gathering all of this information upfront can help make the complaint process smoother and more effective. So, be sure to take the time to document everything as thoroughly as possible.

STEP 2. Try to resolve the issue directly with the noisemaker.

resolve the issue directly with the noisemaker

Don’t rush to involve the authorities just yet! First, try contacting the person or business causing the noise disturbance. 

When speaking to the noisemaker, it’s crucial to remain calm and respectful. Explain how their noise is affecting your daily life and ask if they’re willing to take action.

If they agree, set a reasonable time frame for them to do so and exchange contact information to follow up if needed.

If they’re uncooperative, we suggest documenting your attempts to contact them before escalating the complaint to the authorities. 

Keep in mind that the ultimate objective is to settle the matter in a peaceful and respectful manner. So, don’t hesitate to talk openly and calmly with the noisemaker before resorting to formal action.

STEP 3. Contact your local council.

Contact local council

If your attempt to resolve the noise disturbance directly with the noisemaker falls flat, don’t worry. There is still hope for peace and quiet.

To file a noise complaint with your local council in New Zealand, you can usually find their contact information on their website. 

However, it’s worth noting that the process may differ depending on the council, so it’s best to coordinate with them to know the specific steps to take.

As an example, here’s what happens when you make a noise complaint in Wellington:
• When you contact the council, their Contact Centre will ask for your personal details to log your complaint. Rest assured that your private information will be kept confidential and won’t be shared with anyone else.
• To ensure that the noise complaint is valid and ongoing, the Contact Centre may ask you to call back after 15 minutes to confirm if the noise is still disturbing you.
• In the event that the noise persists and a valid complaint is lodged, a Noise Officer will be dispatched to investigate the matter. The officer will take into account various factors, such as the time of day and background noise, to assess the situation accurately.

STEP 4. Wait for the council to take action.

Wait for the council to take action

Once you’ve filed a noise complaint with your local council in New Zealand, it’s their turn to take action. They’ll look into the issue and determine if the noise levels exceed the legal limits. 

The good news is that the council will keep your complaint confidential and keep you updated on their investigation.

It’s important to keep in mind that the investigation process may take some time, as the council will need to gather evidence and assess the situation. If they find that the noise is excessive, they may issue a warning or take legal action against the noise maker.

STEP 5. Keep the communication going.

Keep the communication going

It’s also essential to keep tabs on your complaint and follow up with the council to ensure that they have taken appropriate action. This step is critical to achieving a peaceful resolution to the noise disturbance.

Following up on your complaint allows you to stay informed of the progress of the investigation and ensure that the council is taking the necessary steps to address the noise issue. 

It’s also an opportunity to provide additional information or evidence if requested by the council. This can help speed up the investigation process and increase the chances of a positive outcome.

If you find that the noise problem persists despite the council’s action, don’t hesitate to file another complaint or seek further legal action. 

What happens after I file a noise complaint and they take action on it?

What happens after I file a noise complaint and they take action on it

After you file a noise complaint in New Zealand and it has been investigated, the local council will take action to address the issue. This may involve issuing a warning or fine to the person responsible for the noise, or in extreme cases, taking legal action.

Yes, just like elsewhere, these are the consequences of violating noise regulations in New Zealand.

But the penalties vary depending on the severity of the violation and may not all be imposed at once.

For instance, local councils have the power to issue infringement notices for noise offenses or first warnings, which can result in fines of up to $750.

In extreme cases, legal action can also be taken against individuals or businesses that continue to make excessive noise, which can result in even steeper fines or penalties.

Additionally, ongoing noise disturbances may lead to a Noise Abatement Direction, which is a formal notice to cease the noise, and failure to comply with this can also result in legal action.