Abandoned vehicles

There are several steps Whanganui District Council must follow before lawfully removing and disposing of a vehicle. The time taken removing abandoned vehicles may differ as a result.

If a vehicle is abandoned, the council is permitted under sections 356 and 356a of the Local Government Act 1974 to remove it from roads within the district.

Generally, abandoned vehicles are unregistered and/or unwarranted and may have been parked on the side of the road for some time before being reported.

Unless the vehicle is creating a hazard there may be a delay between the council being advised and the vehicle being removed (a minimum of 10 days). If the vehicle is parked in a hazardous or dangerous location then please contact Whanganui Police in the first instance.

What should I do if I see a vehicle I think has been abandoned on council property?

Please call Whanganui District Council on 06 349 0001 or email yourcouncil@whanganui.govt.nz with the following information (you can also use the council's Antenno reporting app or the Snap Send Solve app):

  • What makes you think the vehicle has been abandoned – eg: high grass growing around it
  • Detailed location of vehicle
  • Vehicle registration number
  • Year, make, model and colour of vehicle
  • Approximately how long you think the vehicle has been abandoned.

Note – the council cannot remove vehicles from private property or state highways. State highways are the responsibility of Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and they should be contacted in the first instance.

A vehicle such as a car, trailer, truck and so on is considered abandoned if:

  • It is parked on a council road reserve – road reserve refers to any area outside of a property line including the road itself – or other council land
  • It has been there for an unusual length of time
  • The registered owner can’t be identified
  • It is of derelict appearance
  • Registration and Warrant of Fitness / Certificate of Fitness expired by more than 31 days.

Steps to removing an abandoned vehicle 

  1. Council compliance officers will investigate and take photos
  2. The investigating officer will attempt to locate and notify the last known registered owner of the vehicle using registration details, engine or chassis numbers
  3. A letter will be sent to the registered owner of the vehicle giving them 10 days to remove the vehicle. A copy of this notice of removal will also be placed on the vehicle
  4. If the vehicle has not been removed after this date (this may take a few days to confirm) the vehicle may be moved to storage, the police are notified of the intention to remove and a towing operator is sent to remove the vehicle
  5. The vehicle is stored for a maximum of 28 days. If the owner does not respond, the council will advertise its intention to sell the vehicle in 10 days or dispose of it in other ways (ie: sold for scrap). If the council deems that the vehicle is of little to no value then advertising may not be necessary
  6. The council will declare the vehicle as abandoned and legally deregister and sell the vehicle if an owner or interested party (eg: a finance company) doesn’t come forward
  7. If the abandoned vehicle is claimed before a sale, it will be returned to the registered owner once they make a payment for costs incurred
  8. If the vehicle is sold the council will deduct costs and any other proceeds will be kept for 12 months. The previous owner can claim the proceeds during that time.

Costs and penalties

Where necessary, infringements may be issued for any stationary vehicle offences under the Land Transport Act 1998 (Motor Vehicle Registration and Licensing) Regulations 2011.

The following fees are applicable. The council reserves the right to review and adjust these charges as and where required.

Abandoned vehicles charges

Towage and recovery cost

Actual cost

Weekly storage fee (or part thereof)