Natural wetland or Regionally Significant Wetland

Wetlands are permanently or intermittently wet areas that support natural ecosystems of plants and animals. They can include bogs, swamps, fens, shallow water and salt marshes, and are found from the coast to the high country. If you have a wetland on your property, there are different rules depending on the type of wetland (Regionally Significant Wetland and/or a natural wetland) and what activity you are proposing to do in or near the wetland.

natural inland wetland means a wetland (as defined in the Act) that is not:

(a) in the coastal marine area; or
(b) a deliberately constructed wetland, other than a wetland constructed to offset impacts on, or to restore, an existing or former natural inland wetland; or
(c) a wetland that has developed in or around a deliberately constructed water body, since the construction of the water body; or
(d) a geothermal wetland; or
(e) a wetland that:
(i) is within an area of pasture used for grazing; and
(ii) has vegetation cover comprising more than 50% exotic pasture species (as identified in the National List of Exotic Pasture Species using the Pasture Exclusion Assessment Methodology (see clause 1.8)); unless
(iii) the wetland is a location of a habitat of a threatened species identified under clause 3.8 of this National Policy Statement, in which case the exclusion in (e) does not apply

If an area doesn’t meet the definition of a wetland under the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM), it may meet the wetland definition under the Regional Plan: Water (known as a Regionally Significant Wetland). If so, the Water Plan rules apply to the wetland.

Regional Plan: Water for Otago


Key dates

*stock includes all beef cattle, dairy cattle, dairy support cattle, deer and pigs.

3 September 2020 all stock must be excluded from wetlands in relation to stock in a new pastoral system.

1 July 2023 all stock must be excluded from natural wetlands identified in Council plans

1 July 2025 All stock must be excluded from wetlands that support threatened species

1 July 2025 All stock must be excluded from wetlands over 0.05 hectares and on low slope land.


Do I need resource consent?

Click on an activity below to view the rules around that activity and if you need a consent.


Not sure what type of wetland it is, or you don’t think it is a wetland?

Have a look around your property and check for areas that:

  • are wet and boggy all the time or regularly
  • contain native plants and/or animals
  • have a river or stream going through the area or nearby

These areas are likely to be wetlands.

In case of uncertainty or dispute about the existence or extent of a natural inland wetland (which means the NES-F rules apply), a regional council must have regard to the Wetland delineation protocols.

Wetland delineation protocols (Ministry for the Environment)

Check if you have a Regionally Significant Wetland on your property (which means RPW rules apply).

Note, induced wetlands, which are incidental wetlands created by any other human activity, are covered by these rules. The rules do not apply to wetlands constructed to offset impacts on or restore an existing or former natural wetland.

Contact us

Email and we can help explain the rules around wetlands and help you understand the rules that apply to your land.

Further information and practice notes

Page last updated 8 July 2024.