Trees

Frequently asked questions about trees on your property, your neighbours and Council property.

Can I plant a tree on the Council berm?

The Council supports the planting of street trees in urban areas to help enhance communities and neighbourhoods. Factors determining any street tree planting include any obstructions, safety, the opinions of residents, traffic issues and the location of essential services. All of these issues are taken into account as part of the Councils Engineering Code of Practice.

All street tree plantings must have Council approval and will generally be undertaken by the Council on existing streets and by developers in new subdivision areas.

If you would like to discuss planting a tree on a Council berm or if you need more information, please contact the Roading Unit on 0800 965 468 (0800WMKGOV) or email office@wmk.govt.nz

Note: To ensure the correct location of the issue is recorded, please send from where an issue has occurred. If you can't, send us the Snap Send Solve with as much location detail in the content as you can. Issues reported using Snap Send Solve can only be attended to during normal office hours.

How can I find out if my tree is protected and what are notable trees?

The Council has a number of 'protected' trees within the District. These trees are classified in the District Plan as “Notable Trees”.  No one is allowed to remove, damage or destroy a Scheduled Notable Tree.

You can check whether or not the tree is registered as Notable (protected) within Councils Operative District Plan.

To understand what activities are permitted and for more information please contact the Duty Planner on 0800 965 468 or email duty.planner@wmk.govt.nz

How do I report a tree or shrub blocking the footpath?

For the safety of pedestrians and road users it's important that all trees and vegetation overhanging a street or footpath are properly maintained.

If you would like to let us know about a tree or shrub blocking the footpath, please contact the Council on 0800 965 468 (0800WMKGOV), email office@wmk.govt.nz or report it using Snap Send Solve.

Note: To ensure the correct location of the issue is recorded, please send from where an issue has occurred. If you can't, send us the Snap Send Solve with as much location detail in the content as you can. Issues reported using Snap Send Solve can only be attended to during normal office hours.

Once advised Council will contact the owner asking for the vegetation to be cut back from the footpath, this includes any branches that may be overhanging.

Where a request has not be complied with, the Council can issue residents or property owners a notice requesting action to be taken within 30 days.

What are the rules around trees and shrubs that overhang footpaths?

All trees and vegetation overhanging a street/road boundary should be cut back to the property to a height of not less than 2.5m above the footpath and berm (grassed areas) and at least 5m above the road. This allows pedestrians to walk on the footpath without having to duck under branches (especially when it's been raining) and trucks and buses can drive down the road without damaging their vehicle or the tree.  

A hedge or vegetation growing through a fence must be cut back to the property boundary. This will ensure that pedestrians don't have to walk on the berm or road. Sufficient footpath room is required for people with a pram or in a wheelchair to allow access to mailboxes.

If you would like to let us know about a footpath obstruction, please contact the Council on 0800 965 468 (0800WMKGOV), email office@wmk.govt.nz or report it using the Snap Send Solve app.

Note: To ensure the correct location of the issue is recorded, please send from where an issue has occurred. If you can't, send us the Snap Send Solve with as much location detail in the content as you can. Issues reported using Snap Send Solve can only be attended to during normal office hours.

What can I do if my neighbour's tree is blocking sunlight from my home and/or overhangs my property?

Not everyone gets on with everyone all of the time and it’s when neighbours fall out that Council are often asked to step in.  While we don't get involved in disputes between private individuals we can offer you some tips on how to deal with them if they arise.  

Most often the problem is trees blocking sunlight, a view or branches and roots encroaching onto a neighbour’s property. We have found differences can usually be settled with a combination of tact and compromise. So first and foremost, discuss your concerns with your neighbour. Be calm. Give them time to think about the problem and possible solutions you can both live with.

Check out the following fact sheet - Neighbourhood Disputes over Trees and Fences.

It might help you to read Section 333 of The Property Act 2007 which clearly defines a property owner’s responsibilities.  You can view or download a copy from www.legislation.govt.nz

If the two parties can’t agree you will probably need to take the problem to your lawyer. You may need to seek a court order to force your neighbour to take the action you want. The District Court will order any action be done within a set time-frame. Don’t do anything yourself that could damage or destroy the tree.

For further advice you could contact the Citizens Advice Bureau on 0800 367 222 or www.cab.org.nz or Canterbury Law on 0508 226 529 or www.canlaw.org.nz

You can check whether or not the tree is registered as Notable (protected) within Councils Operative District Plan. In the event that the tree concerned is registered as notable, please contact the Council on 0800 965 468 (0800WMKGOV), email office@wmk.govt.nz

Is there a maximum height that a tree is allowed within a residential area?

There is no actual height limit for trees and issues surrounding trees are dependent on the individual circumstances.  

It might help you to read Section 333 of The Property Act 2007 which clearly defines a property owner’s responsibilities.  You can view or download a copy from www.legislation.govt.nz  

For further advice you could contact the Citizens Advice Bureau on 0800 367 222 or www.cab.org.nz or Canterbury Law on 0508 226 529 or www.canlaw.org.nz

You can check whether or not the tree is registered as Notable (protected) within Councils Operative District Plan. In the event that the tree concerned is registered as notable, please contact the Council on 0800 965 468 (0800WMKGOV), email office@wmk.govt.nz

Trees and powerlines

Trees too close to power lines are a hazard and a major cause of power failures during bad weather. They can break power lines and network equipment, resulting in risk of serious injury or death as well as causing widespread power outages.

Trees resting on power lines should be reported direct to MainPower on 0800 30 90 80. If you believe the tree is owned by Council please contact the Council on 0800 965 468 (0800WMKGOV) or email office@wmk.govt.nz

Please note that owners are responsible for keeping their tree(s) clear of electricity network lines. More information on the responsibilities of tree owners can be found on the MainPower website.