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Onsite wastewater disposal (septic tanks)


Wastewater is another term for sewage and is the name for everything that gets flushed down the toilet, washed down your kitchen sink and laundry into the wastewater system. In the far north not all properties have direct access to the Council sewerage scheme. These properties will often have onsite wastewater systems to treat their wastewater.

We all have a part to play to prevent harm to the environment and protect public health by keeping onsite wastewater systems and disposal fields working well. Onsite Wastewater Disposal Bylaw

If you are building a new system or upgrading, check out the consent requirements.  These forms will help you navigate the installation process.

Managing your system

As a property owner, you are responsible for maintaining your onsite wastewater system and knowing how it works.

Council maintains a register of onsite wastewater disposal systems. Reminder letters are sent to property owners of systems that are due for servicing.

Failure to maintain your system may result in a fine or penalty.

Maintenance Rules for onsite wastewater systems

Under the Council Bylaw wastewater systems require periodic assessments and maintenance.  This varies to the type of system, refer to the list below.  You will need to arrange, at your expense, an inspection, by a suitably qualified person to inspect and certify your system and if required complete maintenance such as cleaning or repairing any parts that might be blocked, damaged or worn.

The owner or occupier of the property must provide a copy of the assessment certification to the Council (your contractor may do this on your behalf) with 28 days.

If an assessment requires you to undertake physical work it must be completed within 28 days.


At minimum:

  • A primary system/septic tank needs to be inspected every five years
  • A mechanical and alternative systems need to be inspected yearly or as per the manufacturer’s instructions

Council recommends installing a wastewater filter in the septic tank to prevent solids moving into the disposal field and causing blockages. Regular checks of the septic tank system should be undertaken to ensure the system is in good working order and to identify problems.

Commercial and industrial properties

At minimum:

  • A primary system/septic tank needs to be inspected every three years or in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
  • A mechanical and alternative systems need to be inspected yearly or as per the manufacturer’s instructions

Primary system

A primary system has a septic tank and disposal field. These units tend to be older and use simple technology.

Mechanical/Aerated systems

Systems designed for the disposal of wastewater that operates in a mechanical way, and is driven by a power source, and is not a conventional septic tank, or similar type system

Alternative systems

An on-site wastewater disposal system that separates all, or some of, the grey water from toilet wastewater for treatment, including waterless toilet systems such as composting toilets, and vermiculture systems, peat bed treatment systems, and powerless systems

When to upgrade your onsite wastewater system:

The design of your onsite wastewater system needs to suit the way it is used. Review your onsite wastewater system if:

  • you are renovating your house
  • more people will live on your property
  • your summer holiday home becomes your permanent residence
  • you start to host a lot of visitors.

The above changes mean more water will flow through your system, putting more strain on how well your tanks and disposal field can treat your sewage and wastewater.

If you upgrade your onsite wastewater system or build a new one, you will need to apply for a building consent and may need a resource consent.

How do I know if something is wrong with my wastewater system?

Wastewater systems generally give warning that they are about to breakdown or fail completely. Tell-tale signs that your system needs attention include:

  • Effluent or wastewater on the ground around the septic tank and disposal field area.
  • Strong odour coming from the septic tank or disposal field.
  • Slow running drains or toilets.

If you notice these signs, seek advice and engage a drain layer or consulting engineer who is familiar with septic tanks to give advice.

If you have had a qualified person undertake some repairs, then supply us with the information so we can update our records. The contactors will know the details we need.

General advice

Faulty onsite wastewater systems:

Without proper maintenance, your system can stop treating your wastewater.

Faulty onsite wastewater systems can harm human health and the environment.

It is important to manage offensive odours, effluent seepage and other forms of pollution caused by faulty onsite wastewater systems.

Your system needs maintenance if you notice:

  • A blockage or overflow of sewage waste
  • Broken tank lids
  • Murky or smelly puddles on your property
  • Scum and sludge build-up in your septic tank.

Report smells

If you are aware of faulting systems that are causing a harm to the environment or public health we want to know. Please contact us.

The Council operates and maintains a number of wastewater treatment plants across the district. Commercial operators who empty septic tanks are certified to safely discharge septage (i.e. the contents of septic tanks) in our facilities so it is treated in a controlled environment. Council has implemented a scheme to control the points at which septage can be discharged into the Council’s treatment plants, together with a charging scheme to recover the costs of its treatment. Refer to our Fees and Charges for the cost to dispose of septage.

Only approved contractors are authorised to dispose of septage into Council reticulation and can carry maintenance or servicing of Septic Tanks and Mechanical/Aerated Systems in the Far North.

Council approved septic tank contractors

Septic tank contractor


Areas serviced

Ahipara Septic Tank Cleaners

09 4094739

Services from Hihi, Kohukohu, Rangi Point, Panguru, Pawarenga, Mitimiti and north to the Cape

Allen’s Septic Tank (Northland Septic Tank Services Ltd)

0800 763559 or 09 4016009

All of Far North

Bay of Islands Plumbing and Drainage Ltd

09 4078591 or 021 716681

All of Far North

BOI Septic Tank Cleaners

027 4991123 or 09 4037730

All of Far North

E Court Septic Tank Cleaning Services

09 4011276

All of Far North

Get It Gone Septics

09 4081805 or 027 3628106 or
021 1025412

All of Far North

Kerikeri Septic Tank Cleaning Services

09 4073020 or 027 4362488

All of Far North

NAK Autos and Septic Services09 4017541 or 0211373199 All of Far North

Rossmore Tanks Ltd (The Bog Doc)

09 4337113

Towai/Hikurangi Area

Sewage Servicing Northland

09 4071967 or 027 4472322

All of Far North

Steve's Takeaways - Septic Tank Cleaning

027 4570399 or 0800 000306

All of Far North

Sty Ltd 2016

09 4081623 or 021 1268725

All of Far North

Suckit Ltd Septic Tank Services

09 4080154 or 0800 782568

All of Far North

Council approved mechanical/aerated tank contractors

Mechanical/Aerated Tank Contractor


Areas serviced

Advanced Wastewater Systems Ltd (Super Treat Systems Ltd)

09 4073130 or 021 407130

All of Far North

Apex Plumbers

09 4080830 or 027 4721048

All of Far North

Bay of Islands Plumbing and Drainage Ltd

09 4078591 or 021 716681

All of Far North

Dave Hesketh Plumbing

09 402 8104 or 027 285 1018

All of Far North

Duracrete Products Ltd

0800 387227

All of Far North


09 4312434 or 021 1300821

All of Far North

Flush Septic Solutions

09 4016054 or 027 8446672

All of Far North

Penson Holding Ltd

09 4016116 or 021 940315

All of Far North

Pipe It Drain It

09 4079649 or 021 747248

All of Far North

Precision Drainage

09 4347286

All of Far North

Sewage Servicing Northland

09 4071967 or 027 4472322

All of Far North

S3 Ltd

0800 735 464

All of Far North

Waipapa Tanks

0800 739243 or 09 4078323

All of Far North

Last updated: 11 Apr 2024 10:39am