Excessive Noise

What is excessive noise?

Excessive noise is any noise that is under human control and of such a nature as to unreasonably interfere with the peace, comfort and convenience of any person.

Examples of excessive noise may include a loud party, stereo, band practices, audible alarm or machinery.

You should know:

  • There is no one set level for noise that is acceptable.
  • The level of noise that is acceptable varies according to the location of your neighbours, time of day, zone you live/work in, presence of sound barriers and the type of noise.
  • The same noise levels during the day may not be acceptable at night.
  • Noise from moving vehicles such as aircrafts, boats, trains and cars are not under our control.
  • 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.

How loud is that?


Taking action

When we receive a noise complaint we send out a noise control officer to determine if the noise is excessive.

  • The noise control officer's 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 ceased.
  • If the noise starts again after the officer has visited, call again and a noise control officer will revisit the address.

Assessment of excessive noise

Excessive noise complaints are investigated and the key wording in the definition of excessive noise is 'unreasonably interferes'.

This implies that noise can cause 'reasonable' interference. So the main issue for the noise control officer is to determine whether the noise is unreasonable or not when investigating noise complaints.

 Factors that are taken into account when making this determination 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 noise measurements are not required to be taken.

What are Council's and Contractors Powers and Responsibilities?

Power to issue an Excessive Noise Direction (END)

Under Section 327, any enforcement officer, or any constable acting upon the request of an enforcement officer, who has received a complaint that excessive noise is being emitted from any place; and upon investigation of the complaint, is of the opinion that the noise is excessive, may direct (issue an Excessive Noise Direction) the occupier of the place from which the sound is being emitted, or any other person who appears to be responsible for causing the excessive noise, to immediately reduce the noise to a reasonable level.


Council Officers/Contractors are not required to give a warning prior to issuing an END.  The decision to give a warning will depend upon such matters as the time of day or night, noise volume and any other relevant matters.

It is entirely up to the discretion of the Officer at the time. Offenders may receive one warning without costs being incurred. All future site visits where noise is excessive will result in an END being issued and therefore incur costs. A warning given to any occupier/offender is considered to have been given to all occupiers of that property.


Where an Excessive Noise Direction has been issued, all costs incurred as a result of the callout will be charged to the offender. There will also be costs incurred as a result of the confiscation of any equipment.

How to be a good neighbour

Be considerate to your neighbours and if you're planning a noisy activity, keep them informed with a friendly chat beforehand. This is an opportunity to create and maintain good neighbourly relations.

If you find that noise from a neighbouring property is an ongoing source of annoyance, it may be possible to resolve the concern by having an amicable talk with the neighbour causing the noise. They may not realise the annoyance that the noise causes and be willing to help you. Often these concerns are best settled on a neighbourly basis.

Simple steps to help reduce the likelihood of someone making a complaint against you include:


Make a complaint

If you wish to make a complaint about noise you can call us at any time of the day or night, but it is important to phone when the noise is occurring so action can be taken.

Phone Council on (03) 769 8600 and follow the voice prompts.

Complaints against you

If Noise Control visit you, follow their advice and directions carefully. 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 6 months may be disposed of by the Council.

What to do if your equipment has been seized

We will hold your equipment if it is seized. The equipment may be returned if we are satisfied that it will not be used to create further noise problems. You will need to pay the cost of the call outs, storage and delivery.

To ensure that the equipment is returned to the rightful owner, please bring proof of identity and the original copy of the seizure notice when you come to collect your equipment.

Page reviewed: 12 Aug 2019 4:14pm