Cemeteries within the Southland District are administered by either Southland District Council, a cemetery trust, or by iwi.

The Southland District Council administers 16 active cemeteries, three are not in use and two are closed.

You can find out more about cemetery locations and who administers them on the Cemetery locations page. 

Arranging a burial

Once you have decided which cemetery the burial will take place in, you can find out who owns and administers the cemetery by using the map below or going to the Cemetery locations page.

General enquires and matters relating to interments (burials) are dealt with by the Council staff member at the area office adminstering that particular cemetery.

For enquiries regarding trust administered cemeteries, please contact the relevant cemetery trust.

In most cases the interment process is managed by a funeral director.

Apply for a burial or interment

All burials must have a internment warrant (a certificate issued by Council after application and payment of fees, authorising the burial and prescribing terms and conditions of the burial).

In most cases the application for a warrant is managed by a funeral director.

Further information is available in our Cemetery Policy and Cemetery Bylaw.

Apply for an exclusive right of burial

An exclusive right of burial means the plot is reserved for exclusive burial at a later date. Plots are reserved for a period of 20 years, if no interment has taken place within that period you will need to reapply.

Payment must be made prior to a request being processed and the charge relates to each plot reserved. No memorials, plaques, or headstones can be erected until a burial has taken place in the grave and all fees have been paid.

Further information is available in our Cemetery Policy.

Headstones and memorials

Memorials, plaques, or headstones can not be erected until a burial has taken place in the grave and all fees have been paid.

They have to be constructed in accordance with New Zealand Standard 4242:1995 – Headstones and Cemetery Monuments or any subsequent New Zealand Standard. 

A temporary single grave marker may be placed at the head of the grave prior to a permanent memorial being installed.

Memorial walls are now available for plaques only.

Further information is available in our Cemetery Bylaw.


A disinterment requires a licence from the Ministry of Health. You are unlikely to be granted a licence to disinter a body between one month and one year after interment because of the decomposition process.

Applications for a disinterment licence must be made through Southern District Health Board and provided to Council when requesting a disinterment.

Where an application for a disinterment of any deceased is received by Council, the applicant shall be liable for all costs associated with the disinterment.

Disinterring ashes does not need a disinterment licence but does need to be requested and managed through Council.

Human remains interred for more than 100 years are also subject to the jurisdiction of Heritage New Zealand.

No family members are to be present at the disinterment unless specifically authorised by Council.

Further information is available in our Cemetery Policy and Cemetery Bylaw.

Fees and charges

To find out more about fees and charges related to burials and interments please refer to our Fees and charges page on this website. 

Frequently asked questions

No, but you must nominate an adult to oversee the burial, liaise with Council staff and the sexton at the cemetery and for directing the burial process.

By arrangement with the sexton, digging and filling of graves by relatives and associates of the deceased may be permitted.

You will need to provide:

  • the full name of the deceased
  • evidence of death certified by a registered medical practitioner
  • the name of the cemetery in which the burial is to take place
  • the date and time for the burial
  • any special services required for the burial
  • payment of the burial fee is required at the time of the application for the burial warrant

You can contact a funeral home for further information.

The Council provides Returned Services personnel with cemetery plots as a mark of respect for their service to their country.

The Riverton and Otautau cemeteries have RSA plots. Southland District Council may allow the subsequent interment of the husband, wife, civil union, partner or de-facto partner of the deceased service personnel in the same plot.

Ashes can be buried in the ashes block of a cemetery. You will need to apply to Council and pay the relevant fees. Alternately ashes can be interred into an existing plot.

No, unless there will be a full burial interred at a later date.

Flowers placed on a plot have to be contained in a vase or other tribute and have to be place next to a tablet or plaque on the side nearest to the head of the plot. No glass vases or containers will be permitted in the cemetery.

We may at any time remove damaged vases and we may also remove dead flowers and dead foliage, damaged tributes or tributes deemed unaccaptable.

There are areas set aside within some of our cemeteries for certain cultures and religions. Some cemeteries have denominational areas.

A natural burial is when the body is not embalmed and caskets are made from untreated fibre and wood. The caskets are buried within the active soil layer. Nothing is introduced to the environment that is not biodegradable.

Invercargill City Council's Eastern Cemetery now has an area designated for natural burials. Dunedin also has a natural burial site at Green Park in Dunedin.

You will need the consent of Council before you can plant any tree or shrub in a cemetery.

All cemeteries have a memorial wall. All memorials, plaques or structures need to be approved by Council and you will need to apply to Council with full details of the structure including the materials from which it would be made.

You can reserve a plot which is called an exclusive right of burial. You will need to apply through the council office responsible for administering the appropriate cemetery.

You will not be able to pick a plot. Council allocates plots based on availability.

Arrangements for a headstone are made by the family through a monumental mason or funeral director who will liaise with the Council to confirm the burial plot. 

All headstones must meet the requirements of the New Zealand Standard 4242:1995 - Headstones and Cemetery Monuments or any subsequent New Zealand Standard. 

Application for monumental work must be submitted for approval to Council before any monument can be erected.

Southland Crematorium is operated by the Invercargill City Council Ph 03 211 1777.