Atawhai Closed Landfill

Nelson City Council has previously undertaken work to identify the area where the former landfill was located in Atawhai.

The affected area is bounded by Queen Elizabeth II Drive to the northwest, Atawhai Drive to the east, Weka Street to the south and Sovereign Street to the west.

By identifying sites where hazardous substances have been used, stored or disposed of, we can ensure that the sites do not present a risk to human health when they are used or developed. This identification also informs landowners that there is potential for the land to be contaminated and that further investigation is needed before constructing new buildings or changing the land use.

Not all properties within the contamination footprint of the old landfill will have contaminated soil, and property owners can carry out their own site-specific assessment to determine whether their land has been affected. Test results can then be attached to a property’s LIM. For more information go to which has information about how to get soil testing done (see the section “soil sampling”).

Council has carried out regular monitoring in this area, including for methane gas emissions and groundwater contamination.

Consultants have prepared a Site Investigation Report and a Site Monitoring & Management Plan (SMMP) for the affected area.

The Site Investigation Report includes some testing results for specific test locations – some of which are on private properties.

Read the Site Investigation Report here.

Read the Site Monitoring & Management Plan (SMMP) here.

This area in Atawhai has been added to the Hazardous Activities and Industries List (HAIL) site database.

Council also has annual and bi-annual monitoring reports available on request. The most recent monitoring has just been completed and the results will be available in August 2022.

Please contact Council on 03 546 0200 if you have any questions.

Frequently asked questions

What is a HAIL site?

HAIL stands for Hazardous Activities and Industries List. The HAIL is a compilation of activities and industries that are considered likely to cause land contamination resulting from) the use, storage or disposal of hazardous substances.

The HAIL is intended to identify most situations in New Zealand where hazardous substances could cause, and in many cases have caused, land contamination.

Nelson City Council has made a database of all the areas of Nelson where our information shows that HAIL activities are taking or have taken place. This is called the HAIL site database. Research has been done using historical photos, trade directories and property information to establish which areas of land in Nelson could be at risk of contamination because they are likely to have been used for HAIL activities in the past. For example, if the land was once an orchard and chemical sprays were used, or perhaps it was a farm with a sheep dip or a fuel tank, there is a risk of soil contamination.

For more information go to

How does a site get included on the HAIL database?

A site is included on the database if Council information shows that the site has a past or present land use activity that is on the Ministry for the Environment’s Hazardous Activity or Industry list (HAIL). This is a list of 53 activities that involve the use, storage or disposal of significant quantities of hazardous substances. You can see the list at , search word HAIL.

How do you know that my property could be affected by the landfill?

Council has historical records, including maps and aerial photos, which identify the area under or nearby your property was used as a landfill.

The main landfill area was in use from 1947 to 1987. The Management Plan of the landfill includes properties that are on or alongside the landfill.

Council is advising that people who live in this area may have higher than natural levels of contaminants. Only a complete soil test by a professional will determine the content and quantity of residues in your soil.

But my property is beside, not on the site of the old landfill

Contaminants from the landfill can be carried by water in the soil, and gasses can travel through cracks in the soils and along tree roots. Therefore, even though your property is beside the landfill your property may still show elevated amounts of contaminants.

What effect does the landfill have on my property?

Old landfills were not lined and there is potential that over time some chemicals or contaminants have leached from the area of the landfill to the bordering or nearby properties.

Council advises that because of this, your property may have higher than natural concentrations of some contaminants in the soil. When soil is disturbed through digging or excavation it may also release higher than normal levels of some gasses such as methane.

Is it safe for my children to play in the yard?

The concentrations of contaminants detected within the residential area of the site are below the Soil Contaminant Standard for Recreational Land use as outlined in the National Environment Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil. Normal above ground use of the site should not pose any danger, however some occupants are choosing to have a site-specific assessment as levels of contamination are not uniform and may differ between sites.

Can I have a veggie garden and plant trees?

On any HAIL site Council recommends using raised gardens and buying or making compost. This is a convenient way to garden. As gasses can travel along tree roots Council would also discourage the planting of deep-rooted trees.

What does this mean to my property value?

Nothing has changed on your property. Any potential purchaser has always been able to access the council landfill records or perform a soil analysis. A HAIL designation does not prevent building or building modification.

Are there other parts of Nelson that are HAIL sites?

There are hundreds of homes in Nelson that are built on HAIL sites. A HAIL site is designated because of its previous use and the potential for residues or contaminants being left in the soil.

What if I want to build a new house or a deck?

A HAIL site does not prevent you from building on the site. You have received an advisory notification and if you wish to build, Council can supply you with information which that can help you can manage potential issues with soil contaminants or landfill gasses. 

Does Council test or check my property?

Council contractors undertake professional environmental monitoring of the old landfill. Reports are produced annually which guide the management of the closed landfill and the surrounding area.

Can I get a copy of the report?

Yes, Council can provide a link to the summary of the report on request. A small photocopy fee may be applicable if a full report requires printing in hardcopy. Call Council on 03 546 0200 to request a report.   

How long will this affect my property?

The exact length of time where a landfill will produce leachate or gas is difficult to determine. However, the effects of the landfill will reduce over time.