ORC Land and Water Regional Plan - North Otago FMU


North Otago 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 North Otago 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 North Otago FMU online presentation here.


Consultation 1 report

View the summary report of the North Otago FMU feedback received during the first consultation stage.


North Otago FMU online meeting details

The North Otago FMU was the focus of an online community meeting via Zoom on Tuesday 15 March 2022 at 7pm (the meeting was 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

North Otago FMU map boundaries.

Map of North Otago Freshwater Management Unit

Download map (PDF)

The North Otago FMU extends from Waitaki bridge, down through Oamaru, Moeraki, Palmerston townships and to the bottom of the southern branch of the Waikouaiti River.

There is a high natural character values in the upper catchments off the Kakanui, Waianakarua, Trotters Gorge, South Branch of Waikouaiti.

Rich, volcanic soils produced food crops for early Maori and now for farmers, despite the dry climate. Land use has tended towards more water-demanding activities including dairying since the late 1990s, with water quantity pressures faced most acutely during dry and low-flow periods.

The main urban areas are dominated by Oamaru. The semi-rural areas have a mixture of residential activities, including retirement homes and lifestyle blocks and medium sized farm holdings.  

In Kāi Tahu tradition, the creation of the Kakaunui (Kakanui) River relates in time to Te Waka o Aoraki, the shaping of the island and the stocking of the waterways and forests. Historically, this river was an important part of the coastal trails north and south. It was also a part of the seasonal trail of mahika kai and resource gathering, and hapū and whānau bonding.

The surviving rock art remnants and rock shelters associated with seasonal resource use and travel are a particular taoka of the area, providing a unique record of the lives and beliefs of tūpuna.


Science summary

Water quality reflects the nature and intensity of surrounding land use in this area. The upper reaches of the Kakanui, Wainakarua and Shag River have low producing grassland, production forestry and native cover and have good water quality. However, in the lower reaches of these rivers, the predominant land uses are wool, lamb, beef, dairy or deer production and water quality tends to degrade.

This area contains important aquifers, including alluvial gravels (i.e. the Lower Waitaki Plains), alluvial ribbon aquifers (e.g. the Kakanui and Shag) and deep confined aquifers (the NOVA and the Papakaio aquifer. Monitoring results indicate groundwater quality issues, including elevated E. coli and nutrients in many bores. The alluvial ribbon aquifers interact significantly with groundwater and surface water so may impact on water quality and ecology.

In this FMU there are endangered galaxiids in the Kauru River, and Canterbury mudfish in low-lying tributaries on the Lower Waitaki Plains.


Economic summary

Local industries include recreation and tourism, gold mining, production of food and beverages, dairy farming, and the commercial and industrial use of limestone.



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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