Lower Waitaki South Coastal Canterbury

Below you can find information and rules in relation to farming in the Lower Waitaki South Coastal Canterbury zone.

To see if you need a land use consent to farm:

What's happening in your zone?
Find out what the Lower Waitaki South Coastal Canterbury zone committee is discussing.

Lower Waitaki South Coastal Canterbury water zone    Farming events

Updated Limits

The nitrogen limits in the South Coastal Canterbury Plan will be updated following OVERSEER version changes and will be published on this page.

Find updated limits

Farming land use consents
When do I need a consent?

Find out what zone your farm is in

South Coastal Canterbury Streams

The South Coastal Canterbury Plan (Plan Change 3) has separated the region into different sub-areas. There are different consent requirements for each sub-area.

Find out which sub-area your property is within.

The following consent requirements are for individual farms that are larger than 5 hectares and are not supplied water from an Irrigation Scheme that has a nutrient management consent.

Morven Sinclairs Area:

Farms will need a land use consent if the current nitrogen loss exceeds the nitrogen baseline.

Northern Streams Hills and Waihao Wainono Hills sub-areas:

If the current nitrogen loss for the farm is greater than 5kg of nitrogen per hectare per year, you will need consent if:

  • current losses are greater than the nitrogen baseline.

Northern Streams Plains and Waihao Wainono Plains sub-areas:

If the current nitrogen loss for the farm is greater than 15kg of nitrogen per hectare per year, you will need consent if:

  • current losses are greater than the nitrogen baseline; or
  • current losses are greater than the maximum cap for the soil type on the property (listed below).

Nutrient loss- do I need a consent

  • Current nitrogen loss: this is the rate of nitrogen loss averaged out over the most recent 1 July - 30 June four year period.
  • Nitrogen baseline: this is the rate of nitrogen loss averaged out over the years of 1 July 2009 - 30 June 2013.

Maximum Caps based on soil type:

Soil typeKilograms per hectare per year
Shallower 35
Deeper 25
Wetter 20

*If your property has more than one soil type, an 'area weighted average' needs to be worked out. The calculation is as follows: the sum of the maximum cap loads (where each load is calculated by multiplying the maximum cap by the area of land to which that cap applies) divided by the total area of land.

Use this Excel document (XLSX File, 23.07KB) to help with your area weighted average calculation.

Lower Waitaki excluding South Coastal Canterbury Streams

You will not need consent if:

  • You already have a farming land use consent; or
  • Your farm is part of an Irrigation Scheme that has a resource consent that manages nutrients; or
  • In the Valley and Tributaries Zone, Hakataramea Flat, Hill or River Zones or Greater Waikakahi Zone: You have a water permit for irrigation, granted between 1 November 2009 and 13 February 2016 that has commenced, and it has conditions that require the preparation of a plan to mitigate the effects of nutrient loss to water. You also can not have changed conditions to your water permit since 13 February 2016.
  • Elsewhere in the Waitaki catchment: You have a water permit for irrigation, granted before 18 February 2016 that has commenced, and has conditions that limit the amount of nitrogen that may be leached and requires the preparation of a plan to mitigate the effects of nutrient loss to water.

If none of these applies then you will need consent if:

Hakataramea Flat, Hill, River Zones and Greater Waikakahi Zone:

  • Your farm has over 50ha or more of irrigation; or
  • Winter grazing* is more than 20ha; or
  • After 13 February 2016, your irrigated area has increased by more than 10ha.

Valley and Tributaries or Whitneys Creek Zones:

  • Your farm has 50ha or more of irrigation; or
  • You have an area of winter grazing: that exceeds the limits in the table below:
On a propertyWinter grazing*
Less than 100 ha more than 10 ha
Between 100 and 600ha more than 10% of the property
More than a 600ha more than 60 ha

*Winter grazing is the grazing of cattle within the period of 1 May to 30 September, where cattle are contained for break-feeding of in-situ brassica and root vegetable forage crops or for consuming supplementary feed that has been brought onto the property.

If you do need a land use consent to farm:

Download your application form and planning assessment or contact an industry support partner for help.

Lower Waitaki nutrient zones

Farm map

You can access lots of useful information to build your Farm Environment Plan, to find out in which nutrient management zone your property is located, and for your consent application by accessing Canterbury Maps.

Canterbury Maps  

Consents and Supporting Tools

Nutrient Modelling

Get your Nutrient Budgets done, or at least be on the list.

Find yourself a trusted nutrient management advisor that will help you understand how to make your budget work for you.

Talk to your industry sector representative, fertilizer representative or a Certified Nutrient Management Advisor.

You will need:

South Coastal Canterbury Streams

  • A Nitrogen Baseline
  • A current nitrogen loss calculation.

Lower Waitaki excluding South Coastal Canterbury Streams

  • A Nitrogen Baseline
  • A Baseline GMP Loss Rate as calculated by the Farm Portal

Talk to you Nutrient Management Advisor to confirm what you need to include in your application. 


NCheck helps you determine your farm's nitrogen loss rate and whether consent is required. It can also be used in the consent process by some land uses.

NCheck    User guide


Overseer is required for most resource consent applications, where NCheck is not an option.

Farm Environment Plans

You will need to prepare a Farm Environment Plan (FEP).

There are lots of approved Farm Environment Plan templates to choose from. Talk to your Industry sector representative about your options and find out how they can help.

FEP Templates and Info

Good Management Practices

Farm map

You can access lots of useful information to build your Farm Environment Plan, to find out in which nutrient management zone your property is located, and for your consent application by accessing Canterbury Maps.

Canterbury Maps  

Resource Consents

If you require a resource consent:

You can get a free one hour pre-application consultation.

To arrange this please contact our customer services team.

Calling from Christchurch (03) 353-9007

Calling from any other area 0800 324 636

Resource consents

Download your Application Form, and Rule and Planning Assessments.

Key Dates


If you require consent, apply for it now.

Fill in the consent application form, and ensure your Farm Environment Plan and Nutrient Budgets are in order.  

Call us on 0800 324 636 to arrange an appointment.

Other rules on farm
View the Farmers Guide to Permitted Activities in Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan (PDF File, 777.74KB).  Please note, that for some activities, sub-regional rules apply.
Stock Exclusion

What’s prohibited?

Farmed cattle, deer or pigs having access to the bed of a river where the following sites are mapped:

  • Īnanga spawning habitat and salmon spawning sites
  • Community drinking water protection zones
  • waterways 1000m upstream of a freshwater bathing site
  • the bed or banks of a spring-fed plains river

What kind of stock access requires a resource consent?

A consent is required for any access by intensively farmed stock to any river over 1m wide or 10cm deep or to a wetland.

Intensively farmed stock are considered to be:

  • Cattle or deer grazed on irrigated land or contained for break-feeding of winter feed crops
  • Dairy cattle, of any class, including cows, whether dry or milking, and whether on irrigated land or not
  • Farmed pigs.

What can be done without a resource consent?

Conditions for permitted access

Other stock (not intensively farmed) are allowed to access rivers and wetlands without consent if it does not result in:

  • Pugging or de-vegetation that exposes bare earth in the bed or banks
  • A conspicuous change in clarity or colour of the water outside the mixing zone
  • Cattle standing in any lake located within a Lake Zone, any lake classified as a High Naturalness Waterbody, or any lake located outside the Hill and High Country Area.


Download a copy of the Stock Exclusion Fact Sheet (PDF File, 2.77MB).

How is the bed of a braided river defined for stock exclusion?

river is defined as a continually or intermittently flowing body of fresh water; and includes a stream and modified watercourse; but does not include any artificial watercourse (including an irrigation canal, water supply race, canal for the supply of water for electricity power generation, and farm drainage canal). 

A braided river is a river that at some point in its length flows in multiple, mobile channels across a gravel floodplain.  For the purposes of Environment Canterbury’s stock exclusion rules, the bed (including the banks) of a braided river is limited to the wetted channels, any gravel islands, the gravel margins, and the outer edge of any flood protection vegetation or where no flood protection vegetation exists, the lesser of:

  • The distance from the outer gravel margin to land that was cultivated or was in crop or pasture prior to 5 September 2015; or
  • 10m landward of the outer gravel margin as measured at any time, except that if a stopbank exists then the stopbank does not form part of the bed.

There is an exception to these conditions for stock crossing points (please contact Customer Services for more information)

What is a wetland?

Wetlands are defined in the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan as coastal wetlands, wetlands which are part of a river, stream or lake; and natural ponds, swamps, marshes, fens, bogs, seeps, brackish areas, mountain wetlands, and other naturally wet areas that support an indigenous ecosystem of plants and animals specifically adapted to living in wet conditions and provide a habitat for wildlife. It excludes:

  • wet pasture or where water temporarily ponds after rainfall;
  • artificial wetlands used for wastewater or storm water treatment;
  • artificial farm dams, drainage canals and detention dams; and
  • reservoirs for firefighting, domestic or community water supply. 

What is Wet Pasture?

The dictionary (Merriam-Webster) defines pasture as “plants (such as grass) grown for feeding especially of grazing animals / land or a plot used for grazing / the feeding of livestock”.

This definition links the purpose for which the grass is grown, with the feeding of grazing animals. This draws a distinction between grass that has been grown (introduced) for the purpose of feeding, to that which is not being grown but nevertheless, would be suitable for grazing animals to feed on.

Essentially, wet pasture is grass being grown for the purpose of feeding grazing animals.

The following factors, either individually or in combination, can be used as a starting point for on-site discussions:

  • Is the grass being actively grazed by farm animals?
  • Is the land being deliberately managed and actively maintained (includes fertiliser use, cultivation, mowing etc.) for the purpose of growing grass for grazing by farm animals?
  • Is there a predominance of exotic or introduced grass? (Pockets of wetland plant species may occur throughout areas of wet pasture and will need to be managed appropriately).
  • The grass has been (and is still being) actively maintained for grazing by farm animals since September 2015? (This is the operative date of the LWRP).

What are the rules in relation to stock exclusion and water races?

Our rules require the exclusion of livestock from the beds of rivers, lakes, and wetlands. The rules do not require the exclusion of livestock from water races, as water races are considered an ‘artificial watercourse’ which is specified as not coming under the definition of ‘river’. However, the water within these water races is considered ‘surface water’ and as such is required to meet all regional rules relating to water quality (for example, rules relating to effluent, nutrient run-off, sediment etc).

Good Management Practices (GMP) suggest that stock be excluded from water races. In instances where access is required for drinking water purposes, this access should be restricted to a defined area for this purpose. Consideration should be given to why this area is the optimal location for drinking water access. Areas susceptible to pugging and with higher risk of sediment, nutrient, and microbial run-off into the water race should not be selected as drinking water areas. Furthermore, physical access should not go beyond what is needed for the purpose of accessing drinking water.

Silage Pits

What silage pits do not require a resource consent?

The use of a silage pit or stockpiling decaying matter such as composting, as long as:

  • the stockpile/pit is less than 20m3 volume
  • any liquid that drains from stockpile does not enter a surface water body
  • Any decaying organic matter does not originate from an industrial or trade process.

Or, if larger than 20m3:

  • the stockpile is not within 50m of a surface water body, bore, property boundary, the Coastal Marine Area, or a Community Drinking-water Protection Zone
  • any liquid that drains from the stockpile does not enter a surface water body
  • the decaying organic matter doesn’t originate from an industrial or trade process

What silage pits need a resource consent?

A silage pit which cannot meet the conditions above will require a resource consent.

Note: These rules do not apply to bailed silage.

Offal Pits

What kind of offal pit requires a resource consent?

Any offal pit which cannot meet the conditions below.

What can be done without requiring a resource consent?

Conditions for permitted activity:

The pit is:

  • 50m3 or smaller
  • is designed to prevent surface runoff from entering the pit
  • is designed to prevent animals from entering the pit

And the pit must not be located:

  • within 100m of a surface water body, a bore used for water abstraction, the boundary of the site, or the Coastal Marine Area
  • within a Community Drinking-water Protection Zone as set out in Schedule 1
  • within the Christchurch Groundwater Protection Zone
  • onto or into land listed as an archaeological site
  • outside of a rural area


  • The dead animals or animal parts were produced on the property
  • Must have at least 3m of soil or sand between the offal and the seasonal high water table
  • Only 1 pit per 100 hectares per year
  • When pit is filled to within 0.5m of surface, or no longer used, the contents must be covered with at least 0.5m of soil, or the pit is covered with an impermeable lid
  • The pit does not cause an offensive or objectionable odour beyond the boundary of the property
  • Offal not completely covered with impermeable material or soil is located more than 150m from any sensitive activity not located on the property i.e. homes, sports ground, churches, beaches.

Alternatively, where a dead animal cannot be disposed of in accordance with the above, the use of land to bury a single dead animal is permitted as long as:

  • the dead animal was produced on the property
  • the burial pit does not contain water, and the dead animal is immediately covered by enough soil or plant material to prevent odour or other nuisance
  • the burial site is at least 50m from any surface water body, bore or property boundary
Outdoor Burning
Looking to burn some waste or crop stubble on your property?  Visit our outdoor burning page and make sure you comply with our regional rules.
Domestic and Stock Water Use on Farms and Lifestyle Blocks
See the factsheets below for information on taking water for domestic or stock drinking water purposes and for water use on lifestyle blocks.
Biodiversity Tool

There is a new prototype tool for on-farm biodiversity assessments.

Use the online tool to find out how biodiversity-friendly your farm actions are.

You can use the tool to:

  • assess the effectiveness of your current farm actions; and
  • explore the likely impact of changing those actions.

The tool includes 43 actions considered important for New Zealand farmland biodiversity management and reports on the impact for 10 biodiversity groups plus overall farmland biodiversity.

Responsibilities for water consent holders

Water taken from ground water and surface water sources enables our economy to thrive year-round. To ensure that water is used responsibly and that it continues to be a plentiful resource, consent holders have several responsibilities to be aware of.

Download the Responsibilities for Water Consent Holders (PDF File, 152.1KB) or read the information under the tabs below. 

Consent Responsibilities
Careful use of the water resource is something that Environment Canterbury takes very seriously. 
It is your responsibility to meet the terms of your consent.
You can do this by ensuring you supply your water data when it is due and by avoiding taking more water than is allowed under your resource consent (including taking water when rivers are on restriction).
What do I have to do?

As a consent holder, you are responsible for:

  • Compliance with all your consent conditions.
  • Ensuring all water takes over 5 litres per second have a verified water meter and data logger installed which is continuously recording actual daily water use.
  • Only taking water according to the specified volumes of your consent, including maximum flow rates, annual volumes and changes in permitted levels during periods of restriction.
  • Submitting actual water use data daily via telemetry, or annually by 31 July each year.
Monitoring your water use
Your water takes are monitored through automated systems as well as proactive desktop monitoring, and site inspections.
During the irrigation season you’re likely to see Resource Management Officers out and about checking on water takes.
Minimum flow restrictions

Many resource consents contain a condition limiting the taking of water when a river or waterway is on restriction. As the consent holder, it is your responsibility to understand your minimum flow conditions by checking online.

If minimum flows have been reached, you must restrict your water take in accordance with your consent condition. You must also report any errors or any breaches that you observe.

Manual shut off?

If you have an irrigation device that requires a manual shut off, and a water restriction starts at midnight, you no longer have to get up at midnight to turn off your irrigator.

Instead, you can continue to irrigate until as late as 9am even though technically your water take is on restriction from midnight. This enables you to safely get out and turn off the device anytime between midnight and 9am.

If you choose to do this, then when the irrigation restriction ceases, you must not turn your irrigation on again until the time you turned it off.

For example, if you turned your device off at 6am on a restriction day, you must wait until 6am on a non-restriction day to turn it on.

Information on irrigation restrictions
Environment Canterbury’s website and customer service centre are the only places to find irrigation restriction information.
The Irrigation Restriction webpage contains up to date irrigation restrictions for your area, and relating to your consent (search for ‘irrigation’ at ecan.govt.nz).
This website is updated between 4pm and 7pm each day, with the restrictions being effective from 9am the following day.
Fish screens
A fish screen is a structure intended to harmlessly divert fish away from water takes used for irrigation, stock-water, community supplies or hydro-electric power generation.
If you have a water take that requires a fish screen, you can find out more about their efficiency, and how they are monitored.
Weather - planning ahead
Plan your water use for the coming months by using NIWA’s useful Seasonal Climate Outlook. Careful planning can ensure that your water take doesn’t run out in the hot dry months.
To see the latest Seasonal Climate Outlook, go to NIWA.
Water use groups

Working with your neighbours year-round can provide benefits when water is restricted. As part of a water user group, consent holders can share water during times of restriction.

Members of water user groups each have existing consents to take water, and collectively manage the water resource allocated to them, during times of restriction.

Backflow prevention

Many farmers use their irrigation systems for fertigation. If you do so, you must have a backflow preventer so that contaminants cannot enter the groundwater.

Your backflow preventer must be tested annually, and a copy of the test certificate sent to Environment Canterbury. Any backflow preventer which fails the test must be repaired or replaced and then re-tested.

Find out which backflow preventers are recommended, and read all about the requirements here.

Key Contacts 

Zone Manager

Chris Eccleston   chris.eccleston@ecan.govt.nz  027 554 4007

Talk to your zone

Peter Burt — Zone Lead   peter.burt@ecan.govt.nz   027 688 2013

Kennedy Lange — Biodiversity Officer  kennedy.lange@ecan.govt.nz  (03) 687 7800

Tom Byrne — Land Management Advisor   tom.byrne@ecan.govt.nz   027 381 9371

Jenna Hughes-Games — Land Management Advisor  jenna.hughes-games@ecan.govt.nz  027 705 1276

Rosemary Clucas — Pou Mātai Kō   rosemary.clucas@ecan.govt.nz   027 328 7547

Adam Thomas — Resource Management Officer - Compliance  adam.thomas@ecan.govt.nz  027 276 2756

Talk to your scheme

Lower Waitaki Irrigation — Richard Plunket  richard@banarachfarm.co.nz  027 220 1510

Morven Glenavy Ikawai Irrigation Company — Judith Neilson  judith@mgiirrigation.co.nz  027 522 3354

Waihao Downs Irrigation Limited — Judith Neilson  judith@mgiirrigation.co.nz  027 522 3354

Maerewhenua Community Irrigation Scheme — Murray Turner  murray@rivert.co.nz  027 450 0625

Kurow-Duntroon Irrigation Scheme Limited — Murray Turner  murray@rivert.co.nz  027 450 0625

Haka Valley Irrigation Limited — Andy Hayes   027 227 2588

Connect to your primary industry body

They may be able to support and advise you on how to meet Good Management Practice, prepare a Farm Environment Plan, and calculate nutrient budgets. There may also be events being held in your area.

Get help