What is gravel extraction?

We work with the community to ensure the sustainable use of our natural resources. One such way is by ensuring the safe and sustainable extraction of alluvium. 

Alluvium does not exclusively refer to gravel. Alluvium is defined in the Regional Plan: Water for Otago (RPW) as “Sediment including rock, gravel, sand or silt material deposited by flowing water on floodplains and in lake and riverbeds, as a result of alluvial processes.”

The rules

Any extraction of alluvium/gravel from a river bed must comply with the rules in the RPW. Rule of the RPW outlines the permitted activity criteria for the extraction of alluvium within the bed of the river. The rule states that:

  • No person takes more than 20 cubic metres in any month; and
  • The alluvium is not taken from the wet bed of the river and the surface of the remaining alluvium is not left lower than the level of the water in the river; and
  • The area from which the material is taken is smoothed over, as far as practicable; and
  • The activity is not carried out within 20 metres of any structure which has foundations in the river bed, or any ford or pipeline; and
  • No material is taken directly from the bank or from any defence against water

You can find more information on this rule in the "Land Use on Lake or Riverbeds or Regionally Significant Wetlands" section. Where the above criteria cannot be met, resource consent will be required for taking gravel.

Regional Plan: Water for Otago - Chapter 13 Rules: Land Use on Lake or Riverbeds or Wetlands

Regional Plan - Water - Chapter 13: Land Use on Lake or River Beds or Regionally Significant Wetlands

May 2014

PDF | 471 KB

Applying for a resource consent

Application forms for a gravel extraction consent can be found on our Ready to apply for consent page. Information on fees and charges can also be found under the apply for consent page.



The first 30 minutes of staff time can be offered free of charge, however, any time spent after the first half an hour will incur a charge.


General information for an application

A consent application made to extract gravel requires an assessment of environmental effects. This assessment must include, but are not necessarily limited to, effects on:  

  • River function and form and sustainability of the gravel resource
  • Instream values
  • Amenity values, natural character, public access, and heritage values
  • Cultural values
  • Other users of the river
  • Considerations of alternatives

Schedule 1 of the RPW contains many scheduled values for watercourses in Otago. This can be found in the Schedule of natural and human use values of Otago’s surface water bodies.

Gravel royalties

The extraction of gravel may incur royalties. Royalties are set to ensure the Crown receives a fair financial return for the development of its minerals to the benefit of New Zealand. These are paid at a rate of $0.11 per tonne sold. More information on gravel royalties can be found on the NZPAM.govt.nz Minerals permits page

If you have any more questions, please get in contact with us at consent.enquiries@orc.govt.nz.

Page last updated 22 June 2024.