Everyone is responsible for the noise they make. We need to ensure that the noise we make does not exceed a reasonable level that disturbs or annoys people day or night.

Reporting excessive noise

Excessive noise is generally unacceptable at any time. The Council can act on excessive noise created by:

  • musical instruments/equipment.
  • electrical appliances.
  • machinery/construction.
  • explosion or vibration.

We cannot act on a noise complaint caused by a car alarm. For car alarms, please contact the Police non-emergency line 105 and they will locate the owner of the vehicle. 

For other noise complaints, contact us on 03 941 8999 when the noise is happening (available 24 hours a day) and when talking to your neighbour does not work or you would like us to visit.

We'll ask for your name so we can keep track of the issue and inform you of any updates. Your name won't be given out to others. Call us again if the noise reoccurs.

The Council can't help with all noise issues, as not all noise is covered by the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA).

  • Noise must be coming from a separate address to yours.
  • Noise between tenancies with the same landlord is covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 1996.
  • Certain levels of construction noise are allowed during the day.
  • A construction site may also have a resource consent for different noise limits or working times.
  • Noise rules don't apply to unplanned emergency works, such as water mains breaks.
  • We do not monitor noise from moving vehicles (aircraft, boats, trains and cars) Environment Canterbury may be able to assist with watercraft noise. Phone 03 365 3828.

When a complaint is received

A noise control officer will go to the address concerned and assess the noise. If noise control visits you, follow their advice and directions carefully. 

They will decide if the noise is reasonable or excessive by considering:

  • Volume.
  • Time.
  • Reason for the noise, and whether or not the noise has a particular tonal character.
  • How often it occurs and for how long.

If the noise is excessive

The noise control officer may:

  • Issue an excessive noise direction requiring the noise to be reduced to an acceptable level.
  • In the case of people noise, the officer can require the noise to be reduced but if there is anti-social behaviour the police should be called.

Enforcing an excessive noise direction

An excessive noise direction remains in place for up to 72 hours.

If further complaints are received within this time and the noise is deemed excessive, a noise control officer and the police will enter the property and:

  • Remove whatever is making the noise.
  • Take away working parts.
  • Lock up or seal off the object making the noise or take any other steps needed to reduce the noise.

Seized equipment

​Contact us on 03 941 8999 in the first instance should you wish to get your equipment back. Seized or confiscated equipment can be reclaimed when the Council is satisfied that returning it will not lead to more excessive noise.

Costs incurred in removing and storing the equipment are payable on return. Equipment is only returned to the owner and suitable proof of identity is required for this purpose. 

Equipment that is not reclaimed after six months may be disposed of by the Council.


Monitoring and managing noise

The Christchurch City Plan sets noise levels across the city. The levels are generally lower for the night time and also depend on the zoning of the land. Business zone levels are generally higher than the living zones.

Council officers can assess if the noise levels are met. If the levels are not complying further action will be taken to gain compliance.

The Resource Management Act 1991(external link) (RMA) is designed to:

  • Protect people from unreasonable and excessive noise
  • Ensure that there is no sleep disturbance during night time hours
  • Provide effective noise control in our community
  • Protect the rights of people and industry to make a reasonable level of noise

The RMA defines the term excessive noise as being any noise under human control which unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort, and convenience of any person. Visit the New Zealand Legislation website for the full definition.(external link)

For advice and information contact us.

Ways to reduce noise in your neighbourhood.

Radios, televisions and stereos

Usually, it's the unreasonably loud use of stereos in residential neighbourhoods that causes most concern.

  • Keep the volume down, especially late at night.
  • Keep the bass control low, deep bass sound travels easily.
  • Use headphones.
  • Play music inside with windows and doors closed.

Parties

  • Let neighbours know beforehand, and stick to any agreed finish time.
  • Control the music level and move everyone inside after 10pm.
  • Remind guests to leave quietly.

Musical instruments

Amplified instruments or drums can be annoying for neighbours.

  • Schedule practice times to avoid the early morning or late evening.
  • Keep the volume low and don’t go on too long.
  • Liaise with neighbours to agree on suitable practice times.
  • Practiing in a residential area is possible if you're in a room with sound insulation. If not, try to find a non-residential space to practice in (i.e. in a commercial/industrial zone).

Concerts 

Every concert will have specific criteria which they must adhere to, including resource consent conditions or conditions in the City Plan.

​Outdoor concerts are generally permitted providing they meet certain noise standards and specified finishing times. Noise from these events is monitored.


Businesses 

The City Plan defines the noise standards businesses are expected to comply with - and they can vary between zones. However excessive or unreasonable noise is generally unacceptable at any time.

If you have any concerns about noise from a business please contact us on 03 941 8999. 


Buskers

Busking is generally permitted in certain areas of the City providing certain conditions are adhered to. These conditions include restrictions on the length of time the busker can remain in any area.

If you feel the noise is excessive, or other conditions have been breached (e.g. length of time) contact us on 03 941 8999.


Gardening and DIY work

  • Use noisy power tools at a reasonable time of day. Between 7am to 8pm Monday to Saturday, and 10am to 8pm on Sundays.
  • Let neighbours know if you intend carrying out significant amounts of noisy work.

Mowing lawns

  • There are no set times for mowing you lawn. 
  • Lawn mowing noise is generally acceptable during day time hours, but should not be carried out prior to 7am or after 10pm. 

Alarms

  • Choose an alarm that automatically resets itself after a limited period of time.
  • Consider having your system monitored.
  • Maintain the alarm regularly.
  • Provide your contact details to neighbours.

If you hear a house or building alarm:

  • If there is any sign of forced entry or intruders is evident, contact the Police on 111. 
  • If you need to alert the Police to a non-urgent event that needs to be investigated - they will ask you the appropriate questions and make their determinations for action.
  • Check around neighbours for a keyholder.
  • Check if details of alarm, company, or keyholder are displayed on property.
  • Contact us on 03 941 8999. We will require a street address and any information that can help us locate a keyholder.

Cars and motorcycles

  • Only use your horn in emergencies, and keep your car stereo to a reasonable level.
  • Excessive engine revving or prolonged idling should be avoided.
  • When repairing vehicles, follow the above advice about the timing of DIY work.
  • Noisy vehicles on the road are dealt with by the New Zealand Police.

Animals

  • Barking dogs are covered by the Dog Control Act 1996, contact the Christchurch City Council Animal Management unit on 03 941 8999.
  • Information on dogs and barking issues.
  • Roosters are not suitable for keeping in residential areas and are best confined to rural areas, as their crowing is nearly impossible to control.

Complaints about noise from businesses are treated differently to complaints about homes.

Complaints concerning noise from a commercial or industrial operation can be assessed by the Council's Environmental Health Officers.

If the noise exceeds the relevant levels set by the rules in the City Plan, a request will be made to reduce the noise emission to a complying level. This request can be enforced if necessary.

Noise within the work place is covered by the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992. Contact the Occupational Safety and Health Service of the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment(external link).


Construction and demolition work

Often construction and demolition work is unavoidably loud, and the rules about such work allow for these higher noise levels.

Provided that the levels in the Construction Standard are met at nearby residential areas, noisy work between 7am and 6pm is generally acceptable from Monday to Saturday. Public holidays and Sundays should be quiet.

There are no standards for measuring in-ground vibration.  For concerns regarding structural damage, you should contact your insurance company.

View the New Zealand Standard for construction noise (NZS6803:1999)(external link).