Clean air is fundamental to the health of our families, and the health of our region.

The Otago winter is known for cold temperatures, clear skies, and calm winds. This combination of weather conditions can create strong temperature inversions. These layers can trap smoke particles near the ground and can lead to poor air quality.

The type of heating appliance you use to heat your home is important.

The use of old, inefficient wood burners and poor wood burning techniques are the main contributors to poor winter air quality in Otago.

The Regional Plan for Air aims to improve air quality while ensure you still have a warm, healthy home.

We have identified three Air Zones throughout the region to sustainably manage air quality:

  • Air Zone 1: Alexandra, Arrowtown, Clyde and Cromwell.
  • Air Zone 2: Balclutha, Dunedin, Hawea, Kingston, Milton, Mosgiel, Naseby, Oamaru, Palmerston, Port Chalmers, Queenstown, Ranfurly, Roxburgh, Waikouaiti and Wanaka.
  • Air Zone 3: The rest of Otago.

Depending on which zone you live in, different rules and regulations will apply to the type of heating that can you can use, and the restrictions on outdoor burning. For example, if you live in Air Zone 1 the emission standard for wood burners is more stringent than in other zones.

What you can do

Be smart, burn better

If you already have a compliant wood burner or heating appliance installed, you can further reduce your emissions (and your heating bill) by practicing clean burning techniques.

Air quality strategy for Otago

Air quality and your health

If you breathe in PM10, these tiny particles can get into your airways, adversely affecting your respiratory and cardiovascular systems. They can exacerbate respiratory illnesses such as asthma and may increase your visits to the hospital.

In 2007, we undertook a joint project with Public Health South to determine the effect of PM10 level on hospital emission rates across the region. We found an association between hospital admissions for certain respiratory conditions and PM10 levels in Otago. Hospital admission rates are higher for residents of high pollution areas than for residents of low pollution areas. You can find out more about this research in the information booklet below.

Ambient Air Quality in Otago

Pollution Hotline - reporting of environmental pollution incidents

Phone:  0800 800 033


If you observe an instance of pollution in Otago, use the Pollution Hotline to report observations of pollution to water, air, or land. Your call or email will be dealt with in complete confidence.

Report incidents as soon as possible after you see them. Early reporting and evidence helps us to take action. If you can, take some photographs and email them with your report.

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