Responsible Dog Ownership

Responsible Dog Ownership

Council’s objective is to keep dogs as a positive part of people’s lives in Westland by adopting measures that minimise the problems caused by dogs while at the same time maintaining dog owner’s rights to enjoy recreational opportunities with their dogs.

Under the Council’s Dog Control Policy and Dog Control Bylaw, in conjunction with the Dog Control Act 1996, dog owners are required to:

  • Register any dog from three months of age and over.
  • Renew your annual registration before 31 July each year.
  • Display your dog’s registration tag on their collar.
  • Apply to the Council for a licence to keep more than two dogs on an urban property.
  • Give notice to the Council of any changes in details, as provided on the Dog Registration page.
  • Take all responsible steps to prevent your dog:
    • Causing nuisance by persistent barking, howling, or any other means.
    • Causing injury, endangering or distress to any person
    • Causing nuisance, injure, endanger or cause distress to any stock, poultry, domestic animal or protected wildlife
    • Damaging other people’s property.
  • Remove your dog’s faeces from any public place or land that is not your property.
  • Ensure that your dog is under control when off your property. Only have your dog off the leash in approved areas if you have whistle, voice or electronic recall of your dog. You must carry a leash at all times.
  • Approved off the leash areas (refer to the Dog Control Bylaw for a map of the areas):
    • Hokitika Urban area:
      • Hokitika Beach South of Stafford Street to Sunset Point (beach only; excluding public walkway and open space inland of the rock seawall)
      • Hokitika Beach North of Stafford Street (daylight hours only; non-vegetated tidal areas seaward of mean high water springs (MHWS) only)
      • Wadeson Island and Riverbank East of State Highway 6 (excluding mown sportsfields and West Coast Wilderness Trail)
      • MacAndrew Square Gardens (alongside Hokitika Museum) · Bonar Drive Reserve
      • Robbins Park – Airport Drive
      • Prossers Bush
    • Outside of Hokitika Urban area:
      • all public places (including the shores of all beaches, rivers and lakes) are approved off-leash areas,
  • The following areas are not approved for off the leash:
    • Department of Conservation land (refer to DOC and relevant signage)
    • Mown sportsfields (dogs prohibited)
    • West Coast Wilderness Trail (on-leash area)
    • Areas within a 20m radius of children’s playgrounds (on-leash areas)
    • The non-urban ocean beach from the southern boundary of Hokitika Golf Club (Takutai) to Little Hou Hou Creek (Three Mile), during darkness or in the vegetated areas inland of mean high water springs (MHWS): on-leash area. This area is off-leash only during daylight hours, in the non-vegetated tidal area seaward of MHWS, in order to protect penguins and their habitat.
  • Dogs must be on a leash within the Hokitika Central Business District.
  • Be mindful of native wildlife at the beach and avoid allowing dogs to be off the leash above the high tide line, in dunes, and in areas of beach-side vegetation. Little Blue Penguins and other protected endangered species are known to inhabit and nest on foreshores across much of The West Coast, including our local environs here in Hokitika. The dog’s natural instincts on seeing, smelling or hearing a small creature may over-ride your abilities of voice control of them.
  • Dogs identified as being entirely or predominantly of the breeds – Brazilian Fila, Dogo Argentino, Japanese Tosa, Perro De Presa Canario and American Pit Bull Terrier Type (s 33A Dog Control Act 1996) – or by the Council as menacing must be microchipped and neutered. See below for information about financial assistance for neutering menacing dogs.


Responsible Dog Ownership handbooks are available from Council’s Customer Service Desk.

Free neutering

Funding for the neutering of menacing dogs
Westland District Council offers free neutering for all eligible dogs classified as menacing by breed type or behaviour. Free neutering is aimed at assisting people to meet their obligations under the Dog Control Act 1996 and Westland District Council’s Dog Control Bylaw and reduce the risk and harm of dog attacks.

Under the Dog Control Bylaw all dogs classified as menacing must be neutered.

Owners are encouraged to take advantage of Council funding for free neutering as this can cost up to $400.

Please contact Council on 03 756 9010 or to register your dog for the de-sexing programme or if you have any questions.

What is a menacing dog?

To be eligible for this funding, your dog must be classified as menacing by breed/type or behaviour.

Dogs can be classed as menacing if they are seen as, or are reported to be, posing a threat to people, stock, poultry, domestic animals or wildlife. There are also five breeds of dogs automatically classed as menacing under the Dog Control Act 1996: the Brazillian Fila, Dogo Argentino, Japanese Tosa, Perro De Presa Canario and the Pit Bull Type.