We respond to complaints about excessive or unreasonable noise and take action when the noise unreasonably interferes with your peace, comfort and convenience.

Some level of noise is normal and everyone should expect a degree of noise from time to time.  Noise control is not intended to regulate normal residential activities such as mowing the lawn and driving vehicles on the road. However you do have the right to have excessive noise reduced or stopped. 

If you would like to make a complaint about excessive noise please phone 0800 492 452.

What is Excessive Noise?

Excessive noise is noise that is under human control and unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort and convenience of any person other than a person who is at the place where the noise is being emitted.

Typical complaints include loud music at parties plus house and building alarms.

There are some exceptions from the definition of excessive noise including:

  • Noise from aircraft operating during or immediately before or after flight
  • Vehicles being driven on a road
  • Moving trains.

A key point in the definition of excessive noise is the term ‘unreasonably interferes’. This implies that noise can cause ‘reasonable’ interference.

What happens when I make a complaint?

Noise complaints should be made to our 24 hour telephone number 0800 492 452.

When we receive a noise complaint we send out a noise control officer to determine if the noise is excessive. The noise control officer is contracted to Council and we aim for them to be on site within an hour of receiving the complaint.

Noise control officers first task is to assess whether or not the noise is causing unreasonable interference.

Complaints need to be made when the noise is occurring.  We are unable to do anything about a complaint concerning noise after it has occurred.

If the noise starts again after the officer has visited, call again and a noise control officer will revisit the address.

Factors taken into account when making the assessment regarding the noise include:

  • The activity producing the noise
  • The location of the noise source
  • Time of day or night
  • Duration of the noise
  • Noise history – have there been repeat situations
  • Noise level
  • Potential to stop the noise
  • Special audible characteristics.

The assessment is subjective and no noise measurements have to be taken.

If the Noise Control Officer considers that the noise is excessive, the officer or a member of the Police can direct the person responsible for causing the noise to immediately reduce it to a reasonable level. The direction lasts for 72 hours from the time it is issued. If, at any time during the 72 hour period the direction is in force the person responsible for the noise does not comply with the direction, a Noise Control Officer accompanied by a member of the Police may enter the premises and:

  • Seize and remove equipment responsible for contributing to the noise
  • Render the equipment inoperable
  • Lock or seal the equipment to make it unusable.

In these circumstances it is important to understand that there may be delays before the equipment can be seized as the Noise Control Officer must wait for the Police to attend and is therefore dependent on the availability of Police resources.

What happens if there are ongoing noise problems?

Further action can be taken in the form of issuing a formal abatement notice for ongoing noise problems. Non compliance with this notice carries heavy penalties. Immediate infringement fines are also available for non compliance with an excessive noise direction or an abatement notice.

What if I feel the complaints are unjust?

Please contact the Environmental Health team to discuss the issues.

How do I retrieve seized equipment?

Equipment seized by Noise Control Officers can be reclaimed by applying at Council’s Ngaruawahia Office. The equipment will only be returned if we are satisfied that its return will not lead to a resumption of the noise.

To claim the equipment you will need to:

  • Contact us to arrange a suitable time and for an interview
  • Provide proof of ownership of the equipment, such as warranty, sale or hire purchase documents showing if possible serial numbers of the equipment
  • Provide proof of ID – eg driver licence
  • Complete a form saying that the excessive noise won’t continue if the equipment is returned to you
  • Pay a fee to cover the costs incurred of removing and storing the equipment.

If the equipment is unclaimed or we have refused to return it, we will store the equipment for at least six months after which time we will dispose of it.

What is unreasonable noise?

Certain types of industrial, commercial and business related noise cannot be reduced or stopped immediately. In these situations noise measurements are normally required over a period of time.

Noise from building and construction activities are also controlled by Council. Noise from these activities is required to comply with the NZ Standard on Construction Noise which allows construction-related noise Monday to Saturday within set hours.

The Resource Management Act also requires all noise makers to adopt the best practicable option to avoid the emission of unreasonable noise. This duty is in addition to the duty to comply with specified noise limits.

What happens in cases of unreasonable noise?

Complaints are investigated by our Environmental Health team and measurements may be taken to determine if the noise is breaching noise rules contained in the District Plan or in a resource consent. Anyone making unreasonable noise may be served an abatement notice. This notice requires action to be taken to reduce the noise to a reasonable level within a defined period of time.

Being a good neighbour

You cannot get a permit to make noise for a party, or play your stereo on full or to use any other noisy equipment, but there are some things that you can keep in mind:

  • Be considerate of your neighbours
  • Ensure burglar alarms cut off after 15 minutes
  • Ensure car alarms are installed correctly and are not overly sensitive or faulty
  • Inform neighbours in advance about a party or invite your neighbours
  • Advise neighbours of planned work on your section that may be noisy
  • Minimise noise travelling from your property by keeping doors or windows closed
  • Turn down the noise at a reasonable hour at night (10pm)
  • Don't start up noisy equipment, such as chainsaws, early in the mornings or late in the evenings.