Are your firearms safe and secure over the summer break?

3 minutes read
Posted 4 December, 2023
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Mike McIlraith hunting, November 2023

"Getting ready to head away for holidays can be a stressful time," Mike McIlraith, Director of Partnerships for Te Tari Pūreke – Firearms Safety Authority, says.

"However, it's important to take time to consider how firearms and ammunition will be transported, stored, and used safely during your holidays. If you’re looking to travel with firearms, or you’ll be leaving them at home while you’re away, now is a good time to start thinking about logistics, before heading off on that well-earned summer break.

"Here are a few top safety and security tips to have in mind over your holidays."

1. Travelling with firearms

  • Firearms can never be left in a vehicle overnight. So, if you pack the vehicle the night before, for an early start in the morning, make sure you leave time and space, and pack your firearm just before you travel.
  • Firearms must be transported out of sight. Dedicate a spot in the vehicle where they can’t be seen if someone looks through the window.
  • Firearms must either be inoperable (bolt out or trigger lock in) or in a locked container when travelling. Do both where you can.
  • Ammunition must be transported separately to the firearm, and in a locked container if practical. This will make it more difficult to access both the firearm and ammunition if someone breaks into your vehicle.
  • Firearms can only be left unattended in a locked vehicle for 60 minutes (while you’re nearby). So, plan your meal and rest breaks accordingly.

2. Storing firearms so they don’t get into the wrong hands

  • Think about what you’ll do with your firearm once you get to your holiday destination. If you’re staying with friends and family who own firearms, ask to use their storage.
  • If you use a regular hut or bach, install a gun safe, a firearm rack or secure cable system.
  • Steel cables and padlocks can help secure your firearm to the framing of a building, pipes or built in furniture.
  • Store vital parts and ammunition separately to your firearm.

3. Keeping firearms safe and secure at home while you’re away

  • Make your firearms and ammunition storage even more secure while you’re away. Take the keys with you, cover up gun safes and ammunition storage - so they’re not easily visible. Hide other valuable items like tools or electronics (thieves may start off looking for one thing and leave with your firearms instead).
  • If you’re heading away for an extended period think about the security of your firearms. Consider installing an alarm, security cameras or sensor lights.
  • Put things in place to make it look like you’re home e.g. arrange for someone to mow your lawn and collect the mail, have internal lights on a timer.
  • Considering registering your firearms before you go on holiday. If you do get burgled and your firearms are stolen, the Registry will provide an accurate picture of which firearms were taken.

4. Alcohol and firearms

  • Many of us like to have a few drinks over the Christmas holidays. It’s important to remember though, that alcohol and firearms don’t mix.
  • If you want to have a drink when you get back from a hunt, lock your firearms up first. Gears before beers can stop an accident!
  • If you’ve had a few beers and there’s a possum in the tree or a rabbit in the paddock it will probably still be there tomorrow. It’s not worth risking something going wrong.

Add safety to your essential summer reading list Te Tari Pūreke has recently overhauled and republished the Firearms Safety Code, replacing NZ Police’s Arms Code from 2013.

The Firearms Safety Code is as important to New Zealand’s 230,000 firearms licence holders, as the Road Code is to New Zealand drivers. Understanding the Code is essential for anyone to safely possess and use firearms and for those wanting to get their firearms licence.

The Code provides guidance around the seven rules of firearm safety along with practical examples, photographs and diagrams. It also outlines licence holders’ legal obligations, states of readiness, prepping a firearm for use, safe practices during transport, storage, and handling, as well as safety equipment and first aid. The Code is also now available in te reo Māori.

To brush up on your firearms safety over the summer holidays, you can download a copy free from Or pick one up from any good bookstore, specialist retailer like Gun City, online retailer like Fish Pond or from your local library.

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