Natural Burial

Earth to Earth

Wellington was the first city in New Zealand to adopt a Natural Burial Cemetery for residents wanting to reduce the impact of their final foot print. Established in 2008 through the dedication of the not-for-profit organisation Natural Burials, it’s located in the Makara Cemetery and the site is administered by the Wellington City Council.

The concept is a burial site where nothing is introduced to the soil that will pollute or interfere with natural environmental processes.

Bodies are not embalmed, are dressed in natural fibres and buried in shrouds or certified coffins made of untreated, sustainable wood.

Shallow plots are at a depth where the soil is most active and over planted with a tree native to that area – eventually the site will return to native bush. Plot markers are biodegradable and all details are recorded by the Wellington City Council.

In keeping with the natural burial concept – plots should not be decorated.

The Natural Burial Cemetery will become a living memorial to those interred there.

natural burial cemetery

Plot placement

The burial site has individual plots.

To optimise site regeneration, individual plots cannot be chosen or pre-purchased.

What to expect at a Makara Natural Burial

Cars usually park within the Makara cemetery grounds, by the farm gate which leads to the gravel driveway marked by the Natural Burial signpost.

The hearse can park here and depending on the weather and fitness of attendees, we can carry the coffin down the driveway, for about 70 meters to the newly established burial plots on the left hand side.

The coffin is placed on the boards which straddle the grave. This is the time to say some words or sing some songs or conduct the entire funeral ceremony by the graveside.  When ready, the coffin is lowered into the ground, by hand, using strong straps by either 4 or 6 people. More words may be spoken, and people may throw in foliage, trowels of soil and then build up to backfilling the grave, partially or entirely, with full size shovels (provided).

There is always at least one cemetery technician there to supervise and help if necessary.

Once filled, the chosen tree, if available and during planting season, can be placed by the family. Some opt to plant at a later date – creating another opportunity to gather and tend the grave site. The planting season is during the winter months – giving the chosen tree the best chance of survival.

About a month after the burial, the grave marker is installed by the cemetery staff. In the interim Broadbent & May families are given a named wooden stake to easily identify the plot.

What to wear

We advise sensible footwear (gumboots are great) and raincoats if weather is inclement. Umbrellas are usually useless in the Wellington wind.

You will be encouraged to help back-fill the grave with a shovel.

Makara plot costs

Plot fee:                                                      $3270.00 (as at 2nd July 2023)
(includes planting of native tree, plot maintenance and interment fee)

Natural Burial Registration Fee:           $299.00
(includes grave marker)

Natural Burials – for more information.

Approach to Kapiti Natural Burial area

Natural Burial – Kapiti Coast

A natural burial area has been established as part of the Otaki Cemetery. The site is administered by Kapiti Coast District Council.




Kapiti plot costs

Plot fee:                                                                            $3357.00 (as at July 2021)
(includes plot maintenance and interment fee) 

Natural Burial Registration Fee:                                 $299.00
(includes temporary plot marker)

A Kapiti Coast natural burial plot