Staying safe in rural New Zealand

For our latest safety information, see the Be Safe, Feel Safe booklet.


Police can and will respond to rural crime, but keep in mind they may need to travel long distances to get to you.

Call 111 in an emergency
Tell the operator where and what the emergency is and what services you need.

For non-urgent situations call 105 or visit your local police station.

If you're still worried call 111 and they'll help you work out what to do.

RAPID helps emergency services find you

RAPID stands for Rural Address Property Identification. It is a system that identifies your property and if used will ensure emergency services reach you as fast as possible.

RAPID is a nationwide system that gives every rural property or dwelling an address that is easy to locate. A GPS reading is taken as part of the process of allocating RAPID numbers. Your local authority can provide you with your RAPID number and, for a small fee, a RAPID number plate.

Your RAPID number should be clearly displayed on your front gate so that it can be seen easily from both directions day and night. Keep directions for getting to your property, including your phone number and RAPID number, by the phone. Make sure every member of the family (even young children) can explain them. Show visitors where the directions are.

Preventing rural crime

Steps to good preparation:

  • be organised
  • know your neighbours
  • exchange contact phone numbers and keep those numbers handy
  • discuss what you could do to alert or assist each other in an emergency
  • let neighbours know you are going on holiday or leaving your home overnight.

There is much that rural communities already do to prevent crime and these precautions should be well understood by all members of the community. Rural New Zealand has a reputation for tight-knit, supportive communities.

Preventing crime in rural areas and minimising its impact will be most effective when crime prevention is a partnership between rural people, Police, local authorities and local organisations.

Your local authority, government departments such as Child, Youth and Family, the Ministry of Health and the Department of Conservation, and organisations like Neighbourhood Support, Community Patrols of New Zealand, Victim Support, Citizens Advice Bureau and Women’s Refuge can all assist you with information on how to stay safe or get assistance.

Precautions you can take

If you live on a farm and leave the house to investigate something untoward, first ensure that someone knows where you are going, as much as possible about what you are checking and how long you expect it will take. This could involve phoning Police or your neighbour, waiting for a neighbour to join you and taking a mobile phone or handheld radio with you. 

Crime has three distinct components.

  • A motivated offender (someone who wants, or has the propensity, to commit crime).
  • A suitable target (ie your place because it is unlocked and has sought-after items inside).
  • Lack of a guardian (there's no one around). 

Reduce the opportunity for rural crime by:

  • taking notice of who is out and about and talking to them (particularly if they aren’t locals)
  • locking your house and removing keys
  • closing access gates (particularly to your driveway/house)
  • keeping an eye on each others’ property.

Protecting yourself and your property


Your first concern should always be your own safety and that of others with you. Never take the law into your own hands or take unnecessary risks. Incidents can quickly get out of hand.

What you do when responding to rural crime must always be within the law.

If you encounter strangers on your property, you may ask them to leave (it is an offence for that person to remain on your property once they have been asked to leave) or you may ask the person to provide you with their name and address.

If the person has firearms with them you may also ask for their firearms licence number.

You should retain details given to you by any person found on your property and if the person refuses to provide their details, report that to Police. The obligation to give name and other particulars is contained in the Trespass Act 1980, section 9. Police recommend that a friendly approach be adopted when seeking details. 

Relevant provisions from the Crimes Act 1961

Section 48 Self defence and defence of another
Every one is justified in using, in the defence of himself or another, such force as, in the circumstances as he believes them to be, it is reasonable to use.

Section 52 Defence of movable property against trespasser
Everyone in peaceable possession of any movable thing, and everyone lawfully assisting him, is justified in using reasonable force to resist the taking of the thing by any trespasser or to retake it from any trespasser, if in either case he does not strike or do bodily harm to the trespasser.

Section 55 Defence of dwellinghouse
Everyone in peaceable possession of a dwellinghouse, and everyone lawfully assisting him or acting by his authority, is justified in using such force as is necessary to prevent the forcible breaking and entering of the dwellinghouse by any person if he believes, on reasonable and probable grounds, that there is no lawful justification for the breaking and entering.

Section 56 Defence of land or building
Everyone in peaceable possession of any land or building, and everyone lawfully assisting him or acting by his authority, is justified in using reasonable force to prevent any person from trespassing on the land or building or to remove him therefrom, if he does not strike or do bodily harm to that person.

General advice

Report all instances of crime, even when a police response is not necessary. Police need to know the pattern of crime in an area.

Report all instances of suspicious behaviour. It helps Police to know who is in the community or if there is a pattern of crime developing in an area that needs further investigation or that the rest of the community should be alerted to.

Tag animals and keep accurate stock and produce records. Lock all rural buildings, houses, fuel, machinery etc.

Keep a detailed inventory of all personal valuables and household and business equipment, including model and serial numbers, inscriptions and other identifying features.

If you are afraid to come forward and report details of a crime because of potential repercussions, you can anonymously call the organisation Crimestoppers at anytime on 0800 555 111. You don't have to give your name or any personal information and calls to Crimestoppers cannot be traced.