Land and Water Regional Plan


The Otago Regional Council is developing a Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP), with mana whenua Kāi Tahu, to protect Otago’s precious waterways for future generations.

On this page:

Journey to notification

Common questions answered

The plan's status

The path to a plan


Our draft Plan is one of the first in the country heading towards public notification. Once the plan is notified, a submission and hearings process will begin. Parts of the Plan will have legal effect at this time.


Journey to notification

A big thank you to everyone who took the time to give feedback on the proposed new rules in our draft land and water plan. We received over 550 responses from members of the community wanting to have their voice heard on the draft plan.

So far, the main areas of feedback have been around:

  • changes around setbacks from waterbodies for various farming activities
  • limits on the number of cows per hectare as a measure of intensity
  • restrictions on the amount of nitrogen fertiliser used per hectare
  • minimum flows for the Manuherekia River

Feedback was analysed in November 2023, and presented to Council in December 2023.

Over the period January 2024 to August 2024, we will complete statutory consultation with those who could be affected by the plan. This will include Iwi authorities as well as stakeholders such as city and district councils, central government, industry groups, and environmental groups.

After finishing the statutory consultation ORC will get the plan ready for public notification. One notified, everyone will be able to read the proposed plan, and make formal submissions on it should they choose to. More details on how to make a formal submission will be available before notifying the plan.


Where we are in the process

The Plan's status

Proposed new rules in the Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP) for Otago will give new, comprehensive direction for managing land and water resources in the region. The plan is required in New Zealand law, replacing an outdated Otago Regional Council planning framework that is no longer fit for purpose. The Government’s National Policy Statement on Freshwater 2020 gives effect to new protection for our waterways.

Our planning now must prioritise Te Mana o te Wai, a national policy emphasising that the health of our waterways must come first, above other needs. This national directive applies to all waterways in New Zealand. Our Otago draft plan is one of the first in the country heading towards public notification and a subsequent submission and hearings process. Parts of the plan will have legal effect following notification of the plan.


The path to a plan

We began this journey in 2019 when the Minister for the Environment asked the Otago Regional Council to prepare a new Regional Policy Statement and Land and Water Plan. Previous planning rules and regulations were no longer deemed fit to provide protection for Otago’s waterways and surrounding environment.

Between 2020 and 2022 we engaged with our community around the visions and values people wanted for our waterways and the land affecting them in this new, more in-depth Plan. We also spoke with communities about actions that would help us reach positive environmental outcomes – these were that Otago's freshwater and land activities need to be:

  • Healthy for plants, animals, and people and look after our region for future generations
  • Safe for activities like swimming
  • Beneficial for activities like fishing
  • Sustainably managed; and
  • Respectful of cultural and historical places.


Proposed new rules and regulations (provisions) have now been drafted, with mana whenua Kāi Tahu. This Plan will align with a government goal to improve freshwater quality within one generation.


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