We know that intensive grazing is an essential element of many Otago farming systems, but when it’s not managed well it can result in significant nutrient and sediment losses into waterways that may impact water quality.

Do I need a consent?

Use the flow chart below to work out whether you would be likely to need a resource consent for intensive winter grazing under the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater. 

In general: 

  • If the area of intensive winter grazing is outside any critical source areas and within the limits stated in the chart below, and you manage your grazing well, you will not need a resource consent.
  • If the area of intensive winter grazing is large, or you do not meet the permitted criteria, you would need a resource consent. 

Well-managed intensive grazing activity

A well-managed intensive winter grazing activity means: 

  • Avoiding critical source areas, such as wet spots in paddocks, gullies and swales 
  • Leaving a grassed or planted buffer strip between the area of grazing and any critical source area or water body 
  • Break feeding from the top to the bottom of a sloped paddock 

Refer to your farming industry organisation for more guidance, as they’ll be able to assist with solutions specific to your farming operation. 

Good preparation is crucial for managing your intensive winter grazing well. It’s best to start thinking about how you will manage your grazing well before selecting paddocks and beginning cultivation. The winter grazing plan template could help. 

Not sure if you need a winter grazing consent?

Contact us 

If you don't know whether you need a consent or not for winter grazing activity, contact us. 

Fill out the form, call us on 0800 474 082 or email consent.enquiries@orc.govt.nz. 

Street address, GPS coordinates or registered title area all acceptable.
Do you have a resource consent for this activity? *

A resource consent number could look like this RM20.241 or 96687.
Have you previously contacted the Otago Regional Council about your enquiry? *

Do you know the name of that person? *

Contact details

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Do you require a site visit? *

Enter any additional information or questions you may have.

General Information

If you need a consent, the earlier you contact ORC to discuss your application, the better. 

For your application, we’ll need to know: 

  • Where and how much land is grazed intensively
  • Which stock types are grazed
  • Which types of crops are grazed
  • How the intensive grazing is managed to avoid nutrient and sediment loss 

Please note, while these rules relate to the National Environmental Standard for Freshwater, the following two rules under the Otago Water Plan are relevant to intensive winter grazing. 

  •  Any discharge from land that has been disturbed by stock, where sediment reaches a water body or the Coastal Marine Area, that doesn’t have a sediment mitigation is prohibited. (RPW 12.c.0.3) 
  • The discharge of sediment that results in an increase to the local sedimentation or has a conspicuous change of colour or clarity in a river, lake or wetland is not permitted. (RPW 12.c.1.1)

This information will be reviewed regularly to check for any changes required as a result of new national requirements. For more information, please refer to the Ministry for the Environment website.

The Ministry for Environment has recently published the following guidance documents to support people who manage and monitor intensive winter grazing (IWG) activities to further improve IWG practices: 

You can watch the step-by-step guide video to help you fill out the Intensive Winter Grazing Resource Consent Application Form.


Intensive Winter Grazing 

Grazing livestock on an annual forage crop at any time in the period that begins on 1 May and ends with the close of 30 September of the same year. 

Critical Source Area 

A landscape feature such as a gully, swale,or depression that accumulates runoff from adjacent flats and slopes and delivers contaminants to surface water bodies such as rivers, lakes, and artificial watercourses (excluding subsurface drains, and artificial watercourses that do not connect to natural water bodies). 

Water Body 

Fresh water or geothermal water in a river, lake, stream, pond, wetland, or aquifer, or any part thereof, that is not located within the coastal marine area. 

Frequently asked questions

 Annual forage crop

 Measuring slope

Rule 26(4)(b), National Environmental Standards for Freshwater: The slope of any land under an annual forage crop that is used for intensive winter grazing must be 10 degrees or less, determined by measuring the slope over any 20m distance of the land. 


Rule 26(4)(d), National Environmental Standards for Freshwater: livestock must be kept at least 5 m away from the bed of any river, lake, wetland, or drain (regardless of whether there is any water in it at the time) 


Rule 26A(1), National Environmental Standards for Freshwater: A person using land on a farm for intensive winter grazing in accordance with regulation 26 must take all reasonably practicable steps to minimise adverse effects on freshwater of any pugging that occurs on that land. 


Rule 26B, National Environmental Standards for Freshwater: A person using land on a farm for intensive winter grazing in accordance with regulation 26 must ensure that vegetation is established as ground cover over the whole area of that land as soon as practicable after livestock have finished grazing the land. 

Page last updated 5 July 2024.