Media release

Communities urged to have say on ORC’s Long-Term Plan

Tuesday 16 April 2024

Flood protection and drainage programmes, boosting public transport options across Otago and environmental project funding are some of the main factors driving proposed rates increases and decreases at the Otago Regional Council.

The proposed average rates impact for households would see possible increases of 18.6% for 2024-25, 11.2% for 2025-26 and 9.4% for 2026-27.

ORC’s Chair Gretchen Robertson acknowledges ratepayers have a strong interest in the types of services we undertake and what is affordable.

“There are options up for discussion and we’re urging people in the community to make submissions now as the work programmes being discussed will have effects on them for the next 10 years ahead,” she says.

Submissions, either online or by post, can be made until 28 April.

“With 10 rating changes being proposed that will likely affect some component of rating in your area, we need to know now whether you agree or disagree with these proposals,” Cr Robertson says.

Snapshot - rates changes by district

Clutha district

  • A total rate rise from this year to next from $190 to $226 on a property with a capital value of $300,000
  • A 20% Otago-wide general rate for public transport
  • A new 10% to 20% region-wide rate helping pay for flood control and drainage
  • New targeted rates confined to areas protected by flood and drainage schemes
  • A proposed Balclutha to Dunedin, including Dunedin Airport, public transport trial

Queenstown and district

  • Queenstown Lakes ratepayers would also pay a new 10% to 20% region-wide rate for the Region’s flood and drainage needs.
  • $194M proposed to be spent on Queenstown public transport in the next 10 years
  • This includes more frequent public transport service, electrifying the fleet and an on-demand service for the likes of Quail Rise and Queenstown Hill. Retain ferry service
  • A total rates rise from this year to next of $125 on a property with a $1.2M CV


  • A new targeted rate in the Queenstown Lakes District including Wānaka, Hawea and Albert Town helping to pay for Queenstown transport services
  • A separate environmental fund helping to maintain environmental gains of recent years and pay for projects such as pest management and water-care projects
  • New catchment action plans and rate, a new biodiversity strategy and an indigenous monitoring programme
  • A Wānaka public transport trial

Central Otago

  • A targeted rate for Central Otago river management, such as willow removal and river maintenance, resulting in an increase of 40% in the amount collected from Central Otago for this activity
  • Total rates rise from this year to next in Central Otago of $72.70 on a property, with a CV of $700,000
  • A new air pollution strategy
  • An Alexandra, Clyde, Cromwell to Queenstown public transport service trial


  • An on-demand Oamaru public transport services would be trialled, proposed to be funded from a targeted rate
  • Flood protection and drainage, river management spending proposed to rise to more than a $1 million for each of the next 10 years
  • A total rates rise from this year to next of $58.62 on a property with a $335,000 CV

Dunedin city

  • Introduce a new 20% Otago-wide rate for public transport, recognising wider benefits of public transport to the region including reduced congestion and emission reduction
  • Extra bus services, and timetable expansion on some routes such as Pine Hill and Shiel Hill
  • Expand Dunedin’s targeted rated area to include the wider Dunedin territorial area and Palmerston
  • A total rate rise from this year to next of $95.29 on a property with a $590,000 CV
  • A decrease to targeted rates in flood and drainage areas, and a 10-20% rise in a region-wide rate for all ratepayers for the same protective activity, recognising the wider benefits of this function to the Otago community, including the airport

Go to

Depending on property values, $1.2 million homes in Queenstown and Wanaka could see total rates rises of respectively $125 to $618 and $232 to $584 in 2024-25, while a $700,000 Central Otago home would rise by $72 to $322. A Dunedin city home of $590,000 would rise by $95 to $478 and a Clutha home of $300,000 would rise by $36 to about $226. A Waitaki home of $335,000 would rise by $58.62 to $266.14.

ORC have an online rates estimator for Otago homes at

Public Transport

A new 20% general rate funding allocation for Public Transport is being proposed, which will expand the targeted rated area to include the entire Dunedin territorial district and the entire Queenstown Lakes District.

Targeted transport rates in Dunedin would rise by 14.6% and in Whakatipu 81.2%.

ORC is proposing to change how it rates for Queenstown public transport, with 80% funded by Queenstown Lakes district ratepayers, including those in Albert Town, Hawea and Wanaka; through a fixed uniform rate. The other 20% is proposed to come from an Otago-wide rate.

The Council’s consultation document says this would better reflect the wider benefits public transport offers the region, including improved connectivity, reduced congestion and supporting emission reduction targets.

ORC plans to invest almost $194 million in Queenstown public transport over the next decade, plus an additional $67 million between 2026-34; upgrading the bus fleet to electric and higher-capacity; starting earlier and finishing later, plus with a 10-year timetable target of a bus every 15 minutes.

Ferry services will be retained, and there will be a target for on-demand services to hard-to-reach places like Queenstown Hill and Quail Rise.

For Public Transport, the proposed change is to introduce a 20% general rate funding allocation, with the remaining 80% from a uniform targeted rate across the districts where bus services operate. Most of the 80% will come from Dunedin and Queenstown lakes district through a fixed targeted rate.

ORC’s Manager Transport Lorraine Cheyne says public transport benefits more than just users.

The Queenstown Lakes District as a whole benefits from the operation of efficient and cost-effective public transport in the Whakatipu Basin. The more people who use public transport in and around Queenstown and Arrowtown the easier it is for businesses, including those which involve Queenstown airport’s freight and travel, all serving the wider area to provide their goods and services.

“We’re keen to hear what the wider community thinks of this proposal as part of our LTP consultation,” Ms Cheyne says.

Regional bus trails

ORC will investigate trialling public transport in several districts. Oamaru and Wānaka services will be trialled, funded from a targeted rate, and Alexandra, Clyde, Cromwell to Queenstown and from Balclutha to Dunedin, including the airport, the latter all proposed to be funded from the general rate.

The Long-Term Plan provides the public the opportunity to provide feedback on their willingness to support a public transport investment. Subject to the response Council gets, ORC will then work with and seek feed-back from the local council and communities on the design of the service(s).

Design considerations will include the route, the location of stops, frequency of services and running times over the day/week.

Flood protection, drainage, and river management

ORC estimates $315 million needs to be spent on flood and drainage protection over the next 30 years; including $67 million during the first 10-years of the Long-Term Plan. Areas proposed to receive this investment include Alexandra, the Leith (North Dunedin), Lower, East and West Taieri, Tokomairiro, lower Clutha and lower Waitaki River areas.

For many areas, there will be changes to flood protection, drainage, and river management rates, which will see the current targeted rates decline by more than $500 across around 2100 properties in most flood and drainage-defined areas.

But the general rate rise moves up between 10% to -20% in the areas impacted; Alexandra, Leith, Lower Clutha, Lower, East and West Taieri and Tokomairiro.

ORC proposes to implement a new region-wide (general) rate of 20% of the amount required for flood protection and 10% for all drainage schemes.

Proposed targeted rates for river management will see decreases in Dunedin (-33.9%), Whakatipu (-28.2%) and Wanaka (-19.2%) but Central Otago, with large waterways, would increase 40.2% and Waitaki will go up 57.5%.

For flood protection and drainage, river management spending at Waitaki will rise from $593,000 in 2023-24, to more than a $1 million for each of the next 10 years. The level of expenditure on the Lower Waitaki river control means it’s now proposed to be fully funded by Waitaki River and Waterway Management rates.

For flood protection and drainage, spending at Clutha will rise from $1.8 million currently in 2023-24, then steadily rise through $2 million annually to an estimated $3.1 million by 2033-34.

Tokomairiro operates as a drainage scheme, but its purpose is flood protection, so has a 20% general rate allocation.

Environmental projects

With much of central Government’s funding coming to an end, ORC is proposing there be a targeted rate across Otago’s five districts to establish a dedicated and new large-scale environmental fund, of a minimum $500,000. This would be over and above the Council’s grants scheme such as the Envirofund and could involve partnering with philanthropic funders.

If it was from a targeted rate, the funds collected in each district would be spent there, or if it was an Otago-wide general rate, it would go to projects of the greatest need and benefit across all Otago.

Large-scale projects might include pest management and water quality projects, aimed at maintaining the environment gains made when the funding was provided by the Government.

Online at ORC web site from 28 March

Public feedback sought, until 28 April on

Have your say: visit

Online rates estimator for properties at

Copies of the LTP are available directly from ORC offices and public libraries

By post or drop off written submissions to:

ORC, Level 2, 144 Rattray Street, Dunedin 9016

ORC, Alta House, Level 1, Terrace Junction, 1092 Frankton Road, Queenstown

Want to speak to a councillor?

Come along to one of our Long-Term Plan events being held across Otago, or get in touch with a councillor to talk about what’s proposed for the next 10 years.


Drop-in Events

Wednesday, 10 April | 12–1.30pm | South Dunedin Presbyterian Church Hall, 395 King Edward Street

Wednesday, 10 April | 4–7pm | Mosgiel Coronation Hall, 97 Gordon Road

Thursday, 11 April | 12–2pm and 4–7pm | Early Settlers Hall, 1 Severn Street

Monday, 15 April | 12–2pm and 4–7pm | Cross Recreation Centre, 18 Glasgow Street

Tuesday, 16 April | 12–2pm and 4–7pm | Alexandra Community Hall, Skird Street

Wednesday, 17 April | 4–7pm | Mezzanine Meeting Room, Queenstown Events Centre, Frankton

Thursday, 18 April | 4–7pm | Lake Wānaka Centre, Armstrong Room, 89 Ardmore Street