Biodiversity strategy and action plan

Regional threat assessments

Maps of Otago’s indigenous ecosystems and fauna habitats

Otago Native Planting Guide


New Zealand’s indigenous biodiversity is highly unique. Most of our native species exist nowhere else on Earth.

Otago is large (3.1 million hectares) and one of the most ecologically-diverse regions of New Zealand – from the alpine lakes of the West to Central Otago’s dryland environments, and the coastal forests of the East. We are internationally renowned for our unique wildlife – from albatross, penguins and sea lions along the Otago coastline, to skinks and geckos, through to alpine parrots in the West.

Biodiversity strategy and action plan

Biodiversity (short for biological diversity) describes the variety of all living things. It includes the diversity of species, their genetics and the ecosystems they live in.

The outcomes we collectively want to achieve for Otago


Regional threat assessments

ORC has been working with panels of experts to complete regional threat assessments of various groups of species in our region. So far, reports have been produced documenting the regional conservation status of reptiles and bats in Otago.

Read ORC’s completed regional threat assessments.



Hura te ao gecko (Mokopirirakau galaxias). Photo: Carey Knox

Hura te ao gecko (Mokopirirakau galaxias). Photo: Carey Knox


Maps of Otago’s indigenous ecosystems and fauna habitats

The ORC has compiled information on the extent of Otago’s indigenous ecosystems and of habitats for fauna in these online maps.


Glossary of terms

Ecosystem – A dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-living environment (water, minerals, other physical factors) interacting as a functional unit.

Fauna – the animals of a particular region or habitat.


What information is shown on these maps?

The maps include current and ‘potential’ ecosystem extent for Otago. The ‘potential’ ecosystem extent is an estimate of where indigenous ecosystems would exist today if humans had not arrived in the region. The ecosystem classification system used in creating these maps is for terrestrial (land) and wetland ecosystems.

The current and ‘potential’ ecosystem maps provide insights into the degree of ecosystem change since human arrival, with potential uses of the maps including to inform revegetation and ecosystem restoration projects.

The maps of significant habitats of indigenous fauna across Otago’s terrestrial, freshwater and marine realms are for 20 groups, e.g., bats, birds.

These maps provide a baseline of indigenous biodiversity in Otago and will help inform where we work with partners and communities to maintain and enhance indigenous biodiversity.


Why create these maps?

The maps will be used by ORC for a variety of purposes, including to:

  • Provide a ‘baseline’ of the extent of indigenous ecosystems in Otago
  • Identify and prioritise areas for further ecological survey
  • Identify and prioritise areas across Otago where we can work in partnership with agencies and communities to actively manage indigenous biodiversity
  • Inform conversations and consultations for regulatory and compliance work

The maps could be useful for you as a starting point to guide restoration projects by looking at the kinds of indigenous vegetation may have been present in a particular area, are likely to be present now, or what fauna is in the area that needs protecting. ORC will continue to refine the current ecosystem maps.

These maps are a collection of publicly available data and local knowledge. Please note, this information should be used for indications only.

If you would like further advice about the data on these maps:

Call 0800 474 082.


Related information

Singers and Rogers (2014 is a national classification system for terrestrial and wetland ecosystems developed by the Department of Conservation | Te Papa Atawhai. It was adopted by the ORC so that its programme would complement the work of the Department of Conservation and other regional authorities who have also used this classification for their ecosystems.

For those wanting to set up their own native nursery, a handy guide has been produced by Otago South River Care.



You can use the search bar in the top left-hand corner to search for a property address. Or you can move around the map to find an area by clicking and dragging, using the scroll wheel on your mouse to zoom in and out or use the + and – buttons on the left-hand side of the map.


This map includes broad-scale ecosystem coverage across Otago based on the Singers and Rogers (2014) ecosystem classification system. The legend shows what the colours on the map mean in terms of the classifications in this system. You can find more information about this classification system in this Department of Conservation report.


The information in this map is split into layers, both the 'Otago Ecosystems and Habitats' and the 'Potential Ecosystems' under this layer are turned on when you open the map.

You can view all of the layer options by clicking ‘Layers’ in the blue band at the top right-hand side of the page.

You can click on the arrow to the left of any layer headings to see any sublayers. For example, under the 'Otago Ecosystems and Habitats' heading you will find the ‘Potential Ecosystems’ and ‘Current Indigenous Ecosystems’ layers. You can click on the arrow to the left of any layer headings to see any sublayers and if you click the arrow again you can see the legend that tells you what the colours over areas of the map mean.

If you want to see more layers on the map, you can tick the box next to the layer title to turn it on and click it again to turn it off. There are sublayers underneath the marine and terrestrial habitat layers that can also be toggled on and off.

Information on the map: When you click on coloured areas further information will be displayed in the pop-up panel on the left-hand side of the screen. This will confirm what layer the information sits under, what zone the area is and can have further information such as habitat significance and what species can be found there.

The maps were created using existing publicly available data and new data. Existing data included aerial and satellite imagery, and information from databases such as the Fundamental Soil Layers and the Land Cover Database. 

New data was mapped using a wide range of resources including imagery, research reports, species distribution data, and local knowledge from highly experienced local consultants.

Combined with other regional (e.g. district council mapping) and national (e.g. Department of Conservation's national threatened species database) datasets, this mapping provides a much more comprehensive picture of current indigenous biodiversity across Otago and how it has likely changed over time.

However, the mapping has limitations and some errors are inevitable in mapping at this scale. This mapping was a desk-top exercise, rather than field-based. Limitations include moderately coarse resolution for many of the layers, and misclassification of polygons in some existing databases.

Please note: There will be minor differences in the way indigenous vegetation is classified between the ORC maps and some maps from district councils (e.g. DCC). This is because our mapping needed a consistent methodology applied at a broad regional scale, whereas other mapping has required a higher resolution for the district scale.


Otago Native Planting Guide

The guide and map aim to assist Otago residents to restore our native vegetation and habitats by providing native plant species lists that reflect the natural ecology of Otago.  

It’s been designed to encourage restoration of native biodiversity in your backyard, farm, or local area.

Plan your native planting or restoration programme

Otago landscape

Back to top
Online Maps & Data: