Dunedin & Coast FMU


Dunedin & Coast FMU

We’re developing a new Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP), including rules and limits on water and land use. To reflect Otago’s different environments, we’ve divided the region into Freshwater Management Units (FMUs) or Rohe, which means "area" in te reo Māori.

See the Dunedin & Coast FMU area in the map below.

From late 2021 to early 2022, we asked Otago communities what they value about their local waterways in community meetings and surveys. Due to Covid-19 restrictions we held some of the consultation online.

View the Dunedin & Coast FMU online presentation here.


Consultation 1 report

View the summary report of the Dunedin & Coast FMU feedback received during the first consultation stage.


Dunedin & Coast FMU online meeting details

The Dunedin & Coast FMU was the focus of an online community meeting via Zoom on Monday 14 March 2022 at 12pm and 7pm (the meetings were held online due to Covid-19 restrictions).

If you couldn't join us for the online meeting or would like to view the meeting again, you can view the video recording below.


Next steps

There will be follow-up meetings in July 2022 and December 2022, when ORC and Kāi Tahu will present and discuss a preferred approach to water and land management with you. Check back here for meeting details nearer the time. You will also be able to give input online. 

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 they like or how it can be improved. 

Find out more about the Land and Water Regional Plan here.


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.

Read the economic summary for the Dunedin & Coast FMU.


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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