The Dunstan Rohe is part of the Clutha/Mata-au Freshwater Management Unit (FMU).

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 encourage you to look over our summary of proposed new rules and regulations

The Arrow and Cardrona River catchments are part of the Dunstan Rohe. Local communities began identifying values and objectives and setting minimum flows and take limits for surface water and groundwater in these catchments before the Plan process began. This work will be incorporated in the Plan. 

Click here to see a summary of community values collected for the Arrow River and its aquifers and the Cardrona River and its aquifers.

About the area

Under national legislation, regional councils must manage waterways at an appropriate scale for setting freshwater objectives and limits. We set five Freshwater Management Units (FMUs) for the region, and divided the Clutah/Mata-Au River into five rohe (areas) as it is the largest river in the country, by catchment and volume. 

The Dunstan Rohe runs from the outlets of lakes Wānaka, Whakatipu and Hāwea down to Clyde Dam. It includes the Kawarau, Nevis, Shotover, Upper Clutha/Mata-au, Hāwea, Cardrona, Arrow and Lindis rivers. Many smaller tributaries of the Clutha/Mata-au are also included such as the Lowburn, Amisfield Burn, Bannock Burn and Luggate Creek. 

Outflows of lakes Wānaka and Whakatipu are unregulated whereas the outflow of Lake Hāwea is controlled by the Hāwea Dam. This rohe also includes Lake Dunstan, a run of river hydro-electricity reservoir created by the Clyde Dam. 

Diverse landforms include the rugged Kawarau gorge, tracts of native bush in the remote Shotover catchment and extensive agriculture and fruit-growing areas. 

Māori were drawn inland to this area by the mahika kai network, important for transporting people and resources such as pounamu to the coast. The area later supported gold mining and agricultural endeavours, creating a rich cultural heritage of structures and sites. 

South of Lake Dunstan, Cromwell is the largest urban centre. The economic focus of the area is tourism and agriculture, the latter ranging from viticulture and orchards to sheep and beef farming. 

Economic profile

Freshwater policies for the Dunstan Rohe may affect areas beyond this. We have combined the Dunstan Rohe and the neighbouring Upper Lakes Rohe when considering socio-economic information. These communities have close economic ties – for example, residents often live in one area and work or spend time in the other. 

In 2018, the Upper Lakes Rohe and Dunstan Rohe were home to around 47,400 residents (21% of Otago’s population). In the previous 12 years, the population in these rohe increased by 19,300 people (or 69%) from 28,000 residents in 2006. This rapid population growth increases pressure on water use (water takes and discharges of pollutants or contaminants) and its infrastructure. Overall, these rohe have relatively low social deprivation, measured in terms of income, home ownership, employment, access to transport and communications, and access to internet. 

The local communities and the economy in the Upper Lakes and Dunstan rohe rely heavily on water resources. The most populated towns are built around the lakes. Tourism, the most important industry sector in the rohe, relies on freshwater (including snow, which is essential for the ski resorts). Agricultural activities, mainly dry stock (including deer and with little/no dairy in the Upper Lakes Rohe) and horticulture/viticulture operations, depend on freshwater supplies. 

An understanding of Māori history and the Māori economy is essential 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

Science profile

​Proposed new rules and regulations for the Dunstan Rohe

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.

This summary provides an overview of the provisions relating to the Dunstan Rohe (area). 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:

  • 13 October 2023:
    • Amended information on cultivation in Table 2 for clarity
  • 25 September 2023:
    • Added Dunstan Rohe boundary map
  • 24 September 2023:
    • Added timeframe for achieving the environmental outcomes for target attribute states
Map of the Dunstan Rohe

Want to know more?

Contact your rohe 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


Tel 0800 474 082