Otago Regional Council Land And Water Regional Plan Dunedin Coast FMU


Dunedin Coast FMU

We’re developing a new Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP), including specific rules and limits on water and land use for the Dunedin Coast Freshwater Management Unit (FMU). We want to protect and improve our waterways for native threatened wildlife, the mahika kai we collect, the swimming holes we love, and our livelihoods.

An FMU is the area by which ORC, in partnership with Kāi Tahu, and in consultation with communities, will develop rules and regulations to manage landuse and water. 

The Dunedin Coast FMU spans more than 1,000 square kilometres and is home to more than 125,000 people from the Tokomairiro River near Milton across the city to Karitane in the north.

In the first stage of community consultation in February 2022, we'll like to invite you to come along to public meetings to hear what you know about your catchment, and to share what we know from the science. We will then have group discussions about which aspects of waterway values are most important to you. You can also give feedback via an online survey. Please check back here for community meeting dates and locations. 


Next steps

There will be follow-up meetings in June 2022 when ORC and Kāi Tahu will present environmental management options to achieve the things you value most about waterways in your area. This will be followed in September 2022 by meetings to discuss a preferred approach to water and land management with you.

The preferred approach will then be drafted into the FMU and rohe chapters of the proposed Land and Water Regional Plan. Once this is notified, you can make a submission saying what you like about the plan or how you think it can be improved. 

To keep up to date in the meantime, follow ORC on Facebook and or Twitter, or sign up to On Stream, our newsletter covering water issues. You can also contact ORC at customerservices@orc.govt.nz or 0800 474 082, or your local ORC councillor here.


Consultation timeline


Otago Regional Council Land and Water Regional Plan Dunedin Coast consultation timeline

Click to enlarge or download.



  • Confirm values and discuss their characteristics (to inform the setting of environmental outcomes).
  • Present environmental outcomes and management options to achieve these.
  • Present and discuss a preferred management option.
  • The whole LWRP will be notified and the public can make submissions.


About the area

Dunedin and Coast FMU map boundaries.

Map showing boundaries of the Dunedin Coast Freshwater Management Unit

Download map (PDF)

The Dunedin Coast FMU spans over 1,000 square kilometres of urban and rural land and is home to more than 125,000 people.

It includes a number of areas including:

  • coastal margins to the north and east of Waitati
  • Otago Harbour and Otago Peninsula
  • the City of Dunedin (only 2% of the land area)
  • the narrow coastal strip from Dunedin to north of the Clutha River, and
  • the Tokomairiro River catchment near Milton.

With the exception of Tokomairiro River catchment, many of the catchments are predominantly short river or stream catchments, some associated with estuaries and/or wetlands, especially where the Taieri River cuts through.

Maori settlement dates back to around 1250 AD with moa supported a growing population. The rivers, estuaries and lagoons in the Dunedin coastal area, together with the Otago Harbour, were significant mahika kai resources that supported numerous Kāi Tahu settlements in the area.

The whaling industry, then the gold rush in the mid 1800s attracted many Europeans (predominantly Scottish) and eventually lead to the establishment of Dunedin City.  


Science summary

Water quality in this area strongly reflects the nature and intensity of surrounding land use. The urban streams have catchment-specific water quality issues due to the presence of infrastructure and stormwater runoff from high levels of impervious surfaces.

The Leith and Kaikorai Streams have upper catchments covered in indigenous trees and grassland, while their lower catchments are largely urban environments consisting of streets and buildings, parks and open spaces.

Fraser’s Stream is a major tributary of the Kaikorai Stream into which the Dunedin City Council discharges up to 560 litres per second of high-quality water from the Mt Grand Water Treatment Plant. This flow significantly improves the water quality and in-stream values of the Kaikorai Stream downstream of the discharge point.

The lower catchment of the Tokomairiro has agricultural intensification (sheep, beef and dairy farming as well as some cropping), as well as flowing through an urban area, whereas the upper catchment has a high proportion of forestry.

Water quality in all these catchments deteriorates as it travels through more intensive landscapes in the mid to lower catchment.

There are high ecological values in the area, including forests, estuaries, wetlands, wildlife (such as Hoiho, albatross, sealions, seals,red bill gulls and black bill gulls), marine habitats and threatened species of galaxiids and lamprey.


Economic summary

Landuse in the Dunedin Coast FMU is predominantly grazed grassland for wool, lamb, beef, dairy or deer farming production. There are also areas of forestry.

Other important industries are fishing, tourism, and the urban and industrial development in Dunedin and smaller centres like Milton.


How can you stay up-to-date?

We’ll be sharing project updates and information on this webpage and in our monthly newsletter On-Streamsign up here.

Contact ORC at customerservices@orc.govt.nz or 0800 474 082.

You can also contact your local ORC councillor here.

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