Burial or Cremation

Burial, Cremation or Donation

You can choose to have your body:

  • buried in the earth (natural or conventional cemetery)
  • cremated
  • buried at sea
  • donated to medical science

Earth burial

In the greater Wellington region there are eleven active public cemeteries:

Karori Cemetery – Wellington (burials available only in existing family plots)
Map of Karori Cemetery
Makara Cemetery – Wellington
Map of Makara Cemetery
Natural Burial Cemetery – Wellington (a dedicated section of Makara Cemetery)
Akatarawa Cemetery – Upper Hutt
Taita Cemetery – Lower Hutt
Whenua Tapu Cemetery – Porirua
Paraparumu Beach Cemetery – Kapiti Coast
Awa Tapu – Paraparaumu
Waikanae Cemetery – Waikanae
Otaki Cemetery – Otaki
Kapiti Natural Burial Cemetery(a dedicated section of Otaki Cemetery)

You can be interred at any public cemetery in New Zealand, space permitting, but will usually incur an out of district fee from the local council if you cannot prove residency.

Burial is a more expensive option than cremation due to the costs of; purchasing a plot, interment fee, maintenance fees and headstone or plaque (note that a Natural Burial incurs no headstone or plaque costs).


There are two public crematoria in the greater Wellington region:

Karori Crematorium – Karori Cemetery has two chapels, small (which seats up to 25 people) and the main (which seats up to 140 people).
Whenua Tapu Crematorium – Whenua Tapu Chapel seats about 90 people.

Both facilities offer the opportunity to witness the cremation.

Cremation is a less expensive option than burial. The ashes are usually available within three days and can be returned home or looked after by Broadbent & May until a decision has been made whether to split, inter the ashes in a designated plot or scatter on land or sea.

Artificial Joints and Pacemakers

If the deceased has any metal implants (hip, knee etc) you can opt to have these recycled after cremation and the proceeds donated to a charity, alternatively you can ask to have the implants returned to you.

If the deceased has a pacemaker or defibrillator, these must be removed and decommissioned, as the batteries explode and damage the cremator. The batteries are recycled.

Burial at sea

The New Zealand has specifically designated areas within the territorial coastline for marine burials and permission must be sought from the local Regional Authority. Transfer by either boat or helicopter makes this an expensive option and the casket needs to be modified to ensure it sinks.

Maritime New Zealand – Burial at Sea

Donation to medical science

Arrangements for donating a body to science must be made well in advance of a death and strict criteria must be met for the body to be accepted by the New Zealand medical schools.

University of Otago – Body Bequest

Organ donation

Over one million New Zealanders have indicated on their Driver’s Licence their wish to donate organs for the benefit of someone else. However, circumstances of death dictate the viability of healthy organs for transplant. Donation of tissues is more likely and equally beneficial to improving the quality of someone’s life.

Organ Donation New Zealand

Funerals that don’t cost the earth

Both cremation and burial have an impact on the natural environment and there seems to be no definitive answer. But if you have recently ‘given up the plastic bag’, opting to reduce your ‘final packaging’ is an obvious choice. Choose an all wood coffin or simply a shroud bearer for burial or cremation. Minimise the overall footprint of your funeral by opting for a private farewell or graveside service – reducing both the environmental and financial costs.