We are developing a Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP) in partnership with Kāi Tahu whānui, and with feedback from the greater Otago community.

Join the kōrero on the proposed direction of the Plan to care for Otago's lakes, rivers and streams and guide the activities that impact them.

We have a summary of proposed new rules and regulations that we encourage you to look over:

About the area

The Catlins Freshwater Management Unit (FMU) runs along the southern coast of Otago. 

With extensive conservation lands and rainforests, it is a popular holiday destination, and the population expands in summer and over long weekends. The Catlins contains many unmodified river, coastal and estuarine ecosystems, including an extensive spread of indigenous land cover. The landscape is made up of low ridges running in a north-west/southeast direction which supports the native forest and high-producing grasslands. 

The climate is more temperate than inland Otago with high and reliable annual rainfall, which usually provides ample water supply. 

Land use in the Catlins includes sheep and beef farming, minor dairy grazing and a sizeable (and growing) forestry industry. This mostly occurs in the valleys and hill country. 

Catlins FMU map.

Economic profile and snapshot

In 2018, the Catlins FMU was home to around 1,600 residents. In the 12 years between 2006 and 2018, the population decreased by 4%, in contrast to the Otago region as a whole, which rose 16%. Most Catlins residents live rurally, and nearly 40% of the population live in the Owaka, Kaka Point, or Pounawea townships. 

Water resources are essential to the Catlins local community and economy. Most Catlins workers are in the agriculture or tourism sectors, which are closely tied to the area’s natural resources, such as biodiversity, landscapes, freshwater and soil. 

It is important to understand Māori history and the Māori economy when developing policy and assessing its impact. Pre-European Māori history shapes today’s Aotearoa, and the Māori economy is integral to the national economic system. ORC is partnering with Aukaha and Te Ao Marama to develop an overview of Kāi Tahu history and economy

Catlins Lake

Science profile

Publications and reports

​Proposed new rules and regulations for the Catlins Freshwater Management Unit (FMU)

This summary provides an overview of the provisions relating to the Catlins Freshwater Management Unit (FMU). This includes environmental outcomes, target attribute states and area-specific rules and limits. The rules and limits are in addition to those in the region-wide rules covered in the other summaries.

If you are unsure of any particular terms, there is a ​​glossary of terms.

Recent content updates:

  • 26 September 2023:
    • Added proposed environmental flows, level and take limits for lakes and rivers and added information regarding whether further allocation of water is available
  • 25 September 2023:
    • Added Catlins FMU boundary map
  • 24 September 2023:
    • Added timeframe for achieving the environmental outcomes for target attribute states

Catlins FMU map.

Want to know more?

Contact your FMU's Catchment Advisor for advice and assistance on sustainable land management practices that protect Otago’s waterways.

Sign up to our monthly newsletter On Stream for regular updates

Email customerservices@orc.govt.nz

Tel 0800 474 082 

Page last updated 3 July 2024.