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Firewood

We’ve compared prices for pine firewood, explain what to consider when you buy, and what to do if you think you’ve been sold short. Plus use our firewood calculator to compare types of firewood and work out which is the best value for money.

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What to consider

When to buy

Spring and summer are the best times to buy firewood. Why buy so early? For wood to burn well and cleanly it needs time to dry. You can buy “unseasoned” wood and store it (in an area where air can circulate) ready for use when the cold weather arrives. If you leave it until later you may have to buy dry firewood – and pay more.

Type of wood

Only burn dry, well-seasoned wood. Green wood cools the fire, creating smoke that adds to air pollution.
Only burn dry, well-seasoned wood. Green wood cools the fire, creating smoke that adds to air pollution.

Softwoods and medium-density woods like pine and macrocarpa dry in around 6 to 12 months but burn rapidly. This means regularly adding wood to keep a cosy blaze going. “Old man pine” is from trees aged 30 years or more. It’s denser than ordinary pine and contains more resin, so it burns for longer and puts out more heat. Macrocarpa tends to spark so isn’t suitable for open fires.

Hardwoods such as gum and manuka make a better fire as they have greater heat content and burn slowly. But freshly felled hardwoods can take up to 18 months to dry.

How much firewood do I need for winter?

It’s best to buy in larger quantities – many suppliers will provide free delivery to a local address but only for orders of at least 2 cubic metres. To keep a woodburner going most evenings and weekends through winter you’ll need at least 10 cubic metres of wood.

Receipt

Get a dated receipt with the supplier’s name and address, the type of wood, quantity delivered and price.

Firewood storage

Stack the firewood under cover or against a sheltering wall, and leave enough gaps for drying air to pass through.

Dryness

Only burn dry, well-seasoned wood. Green wood cools the fire, creating smoke that adds to air pollution.

Not sure if your wood is ready to burn? Firewood should have less than 25 percent moisture. You can test it by throwing a small piece onto hot glowing coals. If it catches fire on the top and sides within 1 minute, it’s dry enough to burn well.

If you’re buying wood to burn straight away, ask if it’s dry. Green, wet firewood will not be “fit for the purpose” under the Consumer Guarantees Act – it won’t burn properly and will clog up the flue.

You can buy inexpensive moisture meters which let you check the moisture content of firewood you are about to buy or burn.

Woodburner or open fire?

Modern woodburners are cleaner-burning and more efficient than open fires. An average woodburner is about 70 percent efficient, which means it transfers around 70 percent of the heat to the surroundings. With an open fire you’ll be lucky to get 20 percent.

If a woodburner is permitted in your area, it’s a pleasant way to reduce your electricity bill. Some models can be fitted with a wetback, to preheat water for the hot water cylinder, giving further savings.

Standard measurements

Comparing firewood prices from different suppliers can be a problem. While it’s not illegal to sell landscaping products or firewood by description, how much is in a sackful of this, a trailer-load of that, the back of a ute of the other?

Known volume

We recommend buying bulk materials by a known volume – that is by the cubic metre for firewood, mulch, top soil and other materials.

A cord (equivalent to 3.6 cubic metres) is not a legal measure, although some suppliers we contacted for our survey still use it.

Firewood is sold as a “thrown measure” unless specifically stated otherwise. This means that the quantity of wood is measured as if it was thrown into a container, and not as if it was stacked. Stacking it will reduce the volume by about 1/3 (3 cubic metres of thrown wood is roughly equivalent to 2 cubic metres stacked).

Volume certification

Known volume is more exact, but accuracy is not guaranteed. How do you know that the scoop of firewood dumped on your trailer is the volume you are charged for?

It is illegal for a supplier to say a scoop equals a specified volume unless the scoop’s volume has been certified. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs’ Measurement and Product Safety Service (MAPSS) will approve and certify that a firewood trader’s vehicle holds a stated cubic metre volume. We recommend you buy firewood from such a trader.

There is also a certified 1 cubic metre measure. It was jointly developed by MAPSS and a Christchurch landscaping and garden supply business. The container is also certified to accurately measure smaller volumes of 1/3 and 2/3 of a cubic metre.

If you believe you have been sold short, complain. If you get nowhere, contact the Measurement and Product Safety Service of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs. They have offices in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The ministry has powers of prosecution.

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs’ website has more advice on buying firewood and garden & landscape supplies.

Price survey: pine

The median price of a thrown (rather than neatly stacked) cubic metre of pine rose to $86 from $80 in 2016.

But the difference between the cheapest and most expensive cubic metres is $71 in Wellington, and $55 in Auckland. You should call around to ensure you’re getting the best deal.

Not all firewood is created equal, with some suppliers seasoning their wood much better than others. You can check this by asking suppliers to show you moisture readings of their firewood. Based on the average price of $86, woodburners are almost twice as expensive to run as a heat pump. You can reduce running costs by making sure you’re burning dry firewood of the right size (less than 110mm in diameter), keeping the woodburner refueled, and burning cleanly by adjusting the amount of wood burning rather than turning down the air supply.

Location[sort; desc]Supplier[sort; desc]Cost per load of pine ($)[sort;asc]Load size (thrown cubic metres)[sort;asc]Cost per one cubic metre ($)[sort;asc]
Auckland Comer Firewood 110.001110.00
Auckland Ignition Firewood270.00390.00
Auckland Green Earths Firewood 70.00170.00
Auckland City Firewood70.00170.00
Auckland Chit Chat (Trade Me store)275.00555.00
Auckland Manukau Firewood Yard 360.00490.00
HamiltonCaptain Compost120.001120.00
WaikatoHandy Stack230.001.8127.78
RotoruaBlazing Firewood85.00185.00
TaurangaBay Stump Removal99.00249.50
GisborneBone Dry Firewood Supplies120.001120.00
Palmerston NorthAndrews Firewood290.003.680.56
Palmerston NorthPalmerston North Firewood 240.00380.00
FieldingFuge Firewood420.004105.00
Palmerston NorthLandscape Supply Yard80.00180.00
Palmerston NorthTiritea Sawmilling Co.80.00180.00
FieldingFielding Firewood 75.00175.00
NapierMeeanee Firewood*280.003.677.78
HastingsHBFP LTD270.003.675.00
HaweraHawera Firewood 200.00366.67
New PlymouthWoodwards230.003.565.71
TaupoThe Wood Shed95.00195.00
OhakuneDeadman Firewood90.00190.00
Wellington Wellington Firewood 425.003.6118.06
Wellington Ablaze 346.003.696.11
Wellington The Good Shed390.003130.00
Wellington Firewood Supplies420.004105.00
Wellington Firewood Unlimited380.003126.67
Wellington Woodyswood310.003103.33
Wellington SJ Firewood120.001120.00
Wellington Ezyburn*395.003.6109.72
Wellington Firewood Direct 585.004146.25
Wellington Coastal Landscape (Waikanae)270.00390.00
Wellington Action Recyclers 340.003.694.44
Wellington Kapiti Firewood 280.003.677.78
Wellington Rubys Firewood 310.003.686.11
Wellington Firewood Plus 325.003.690.28
Wellington Composting NZ LTD*90.00190.00
Wellington Shauns Firewood 225.00375.00
Christchurch City Firewood 265.00388.33
Christchurch Davies Firewood215.00371.67
Christchurch Styx Firewood250.00383.33
Christchurch Garden Makers 80.00180.00
Christchurch Christchurch Dry Firewood 200.00366.67
Christchurch Gardening Supplies75.00175.00
Christchurch Ashley Firewood220.00373.33
Christchurch Top Cut266.00388.67
Christchurch Park House Garden Supplies234.00378.00
GeraldineClearwater Firewood195.00365.00
InvercargillParklands75.00175.00
DunedinDunedin Firewood 85.00185.00
DunedinTaieritree (Trade Me store)240.002.885.71
DunedinThe Woodshed*80.00180.00
DunedinGreenscene Firewood 320.00653.33
DunedinFoote Haulage90.00190.00
DunedinQuality Firewood 98.00198.00
DunedinKB McKea Contracting85.00185.00
RanfurlyWandsworth517.50686.25
QueenstownHighlander Firewood300.003100.00

GUIDE TO THE TABLE PRICES are based on an April 2017 survey. *Delivery fees apply.

Firewood cost of heat calculator

Use our calculator to compare the cost of heat for the types of firewood and prices available to you, to work out which is the best value for money.

Cost of heat is indicative only, and takes the minimum efficiency of an authorised wood burner (65%) into account. Many newer log burner are more efficient than this, many older log burners and pot belly stoves, and all open fires will be less efficient than this.

Firewood buying tips

If you’re calling to check firewood prices there are some questions you should ask:

  • Does the supplier have a certificate of approval for their measure? Traders that sell firewood by the cubic metre must use a measure – a truck, trailer or bin – that has been certified by the Measurement and Product Safety Service.
  • Does the quote include GST?
  • What are the delivery costs?
  • What is the condition of the wood? If you’re buying it to burn straight away, green or unseasoned firewood will not be “fit for purpose” under the Consumer Guarantees Act.
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