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 Taiari/Taieri Freshwater Management Unit (FMU) covers the entire Taiari/Taieri River catchment, reaching from Taiari/Taieri Mouth across the Taiari/Taieri Plain into the Strath Taiari/Taieri and Maniototo Basins. 

The catchment area encompasses all or parts of several mountain ranges – the Rock and Pillar Range (1450m), Lammermoor (1160m) and Lammerlaw (1210m) Ranges, the eastern slopes of Rough Ridge (950m), the southern slopes of the Kakanui Mountains (1600m), the lower crests of Taiari/Taieri Ridge (660m) and Maukaatua (Maungatua) (895m).  

Notable freshwater bodies in the catchment are the Taiari/Taieri River and its tributaries (e.g., the Kye Burn, Sow Burn, Deep Stream), Lakes Mahinerangi, Waipori, and Waihola, and the Scroll Plain wetlands.  The Taiari/Taieri River is the fourth-longest in Aotearoa New Zealand, draining the eastern Otago uplands and following an almost circular path from its source to the sea. 

The largest urban area is Mosgiel in the southeast, followed by Ranfurly and Naseby in the north.  

Kāi Tahu used all areas of the Taiari/Taieri catchment, with many mahika kai (the gathering of foods and other resources, the places where they are gathered, and the practices used to gather them) sites and settlements in and around waterways, lakes, and wetlands. Resource use and development have changed or destroyed many old waterbodies, such as Taiari/Taieri Lake.  

European settlers used the Maniototo land for livestock from as early as the 1850s. The gold rush created significant economic growth for the area around Waipiata and Kye Burn in the 1860s. A large wetland that once covered the lower Taiari/Taieri has been drained – the wetlands of Lakes Waihola and Waipori are the remains of this extensive system.  


Economic profile and snapshot

The Upper Taieri area is combined with the Roxburgh Rohe and the Manuherekia Rohe for socio-economic purposes, and they are collectively referred to as the ‘Inland’ area. The Lower Taieri area is combined with the Dunedin & Coast FMU, referred to collectively as Dunedin and surrounds. These communities have close economic ties – residents often live in one area and work or spend time in the others.

In 2018, the Upper Taieri along with Roxburgh and Manuherekia was home to around 13,000 residents (6% of Otago’s population), which had increased by 15% since 2006. The economy of this area depends on the water-reliant agriculture sector (which provides for one in five jobs) and tourism related industries (15% of all jobs). Administrative Services (13%) is the third largest sector in the area; and the Employment Services sub-category provides 10% of all jobs. Together, all these industries account for around half of the employment in the ‘Inland’ area.

In 2018, the area encompassing Dunedin and surrounds was home to around 130,000 residents (or nearly 60% of the population of Otago). In the 12 years between 2006 and 2018, there was a 7% (or 8,100 people) increase in population, which is lower than the Otago Region (+16%) and New Zealand (+17%). Most residents (nearly 80%) live in Dunedin City centre area, while the remainder is split fairly evenly between Mosgiel and surrounding area (10%), and smaller towns and rural areas (10%).

The economy in Dunedin and surrounds is more diverse than other parts of the Otago Region. Residents are likely to be working in Tourism Related industries, Health Care and Social Assistance, Education and Training, Construction, or Public Administration and Safety. Employment in the primary sector is relatively small, providing around 2% of jobs. The large residential population and approximate two million visitors annually (pre-COVID 19) has been putting increasing pressure on water use (water takes and discharges of pollutants or contaminants to water) and its infrastructure.

An understanding of Māori history and Māori economy is essential for policy development and policy impact assessment. Not only does pre-European Māori history help shape modern day New Zealand, but the Māori economy is also integral to New Zealand’s economic system. ORC is partnering with Aukaha and Te Ao Marama to develop an overview of Kāi Tahu history and economy. 

Science profile

Publications and reports

​Proposed new rules and regulations for the Taiari/Taieri Freshwater Management Unit (FMU)

This summary provides an overview of the provisions relating to the Taiari/Taieri 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.

Recent content updates:

  • 29 October 2023
    • Added proposed environmental flows, level and take limits for rivers and aquifers in the Taieri FMU, and added information regarding whether further allocation of water is available.

  • 13 October 2023:
    • Amended information on cultivation in Table 2 for clarity

  • 25 September 2023:
    • Added Taiari/Taieri FMU boundary map
  • 24 September 2023:
      • Added timeframe for achieving the environmental outcomes for target attribute states
      • Added information regarding 'matters of control' in table 2

A map of the Taiari/Taieri FMU boundary is shown below.

Taiari / Taieri FMU map.

Target attribute states

Attributes are indicators that we can measure and monitor. Attributes tell us about the state of a river or lake. A target attribute state (TAS) is the state that an attribute must achieve to make sure that an environmental outcome is met. The timeframe for achieving the TAS for each FMU is set by the environmental outcomes for the FMU.  For the Taiari/Taieri FMU, the environmental outcomes are to be achieved by 2050. By monitoring attributes and comparing their baseline state with their TAS we learn how well how well we are on track towards achieving the environmental outcomes for this FMU or rohe. 

While the environmental outcome statements are largely consistent across Otago, baseline states and TAS are usually specific to each FMU and rohe. Attributes for each value and baseline states for those attributes have been identified along with trends derived from the Otago Regional Council's State of the Environment (SoE) monitoring data. 

The baseline state and TAS for the Taiari/Taieri FMU are in the map below.

Zoom into an area and view the various locations of proposed monitoring sites in an area(s).

Select the yellow dot representing a proposed monitoring site to see the Target Attribute States.

You can further select the Target Attribute States table to view a larger version of the table.

(Note: If you are on a mobile device, tap on the arrow next to the 'X' icon for the table to show.)


FMU provisions

National direction requires Council to set limits as rules or action plans (as appropriate) to achieve the environmental outcomes. This can be done at a region-wide level or at FMU/rohe level. The draft region-wide rules are set out in different briefing papers, including the briefing papers Primary Production, Wastewater, Stormwater, Earthworks, Water Quantity and various others. However, for the Taiari/Taieri FMU a number of specific rules are proposed that are needed to make sure the environmental outcomes for this FMU are achieved overtime. These additional rules, which will be included in the Taiari/Taieri FMU chapter of the new Land and Water Regional Plan, are shown in the table below.


Table 2: Overview of proposed additional provisions for Taiari/Taieri FMU

Contaminants of concern

Draft LWRP


  • Periphyton (biomass and TNTP)
  • E. Coli
  • Suspended fine sediment
  • NNN


  • E. Coli
  • Chlorophyll-a


  • E. Coli
  • Nitrate
  • Consent required for dairy farming and dairy support which allows all activities on farm to be considered in order to require reductions in contaminant losses. Controlled activity status with conditions:
    • the dairy farm is existing
    • has a freshwater farm plan
    • average stocking rate no greater than 2.5 cows per hectare
    • livestock are wintered on the land
    • synthetic nitrogen fertiliser cap of 100 kgs per hectare per year
  • Matters of control are:
    • the content of, and compliance with, the farm’s certified freshwater farm plan
    • the timing of any actions or good management practices proposed to achieve the environmental outcomes for the FMU
    • methods to avoid or mitigate adverse effects of the activity on water quality
    • methods to reduce contaminant loss
    • stocking rates
  • If controlled activity conditions cannot be met, the activity requires a discretionary consent.


  • Increase setbacks for high-risk activities, such as intensive winter grazing and stock access near waterways.
    • all livestock (including sheep) on low slope land of 10 metres from the beds of wide rivers (over 1 metre) and 3 metres from smaller continually flowing rivers
    • with a transition time of 10 years for existing fences.


  • Cultivation permitted subject to conditions relating to setbacks from waterbodies, depending on slope.
    • 5m on a slope of less than 10 degrees
    • 10 metres on slopes between 10 and 20 degrees
  • Cultivation on slopes over 20 degrees, only permitted if the following conditions are met:
    • for the renewing or establishing of pasture only,
    • using no tillage or direct seed drilling only
    • 10 m setbacks from water bodies and wetlands.
  • If the permitted activity conditions cannot be met the activity requires a discretionary consent. 


Environmental flows and levels and limits on take, diversion and damming of water

The Taiari/Taieri FMU chapter will also include take limits and environmental flows and levels for rivers, lakes and aquifers in this FMU.  

Take limits reflect the total quantity of water that can be taken, dammed or diverted from a stream, river, lake or aquifer. Once the combined rate of take for all consented water takes, diversion or damming activities from a water body matches this take limit no further water can be allocated in new consents.  

Environmental flows (for rivers or streams) or environmental levels (for lakes and aquifers) include minimum flows or levels that when reached any consented (and some permitted) takes, diversions and damming activities must cease. These restrictions on water taking, diversions or damming activities typically occur during dry periods and are needed to make sure after important values, such as threatened fish, drinking water supply or mahika kai (food and resource gathering) values, are looked after. 



Environmental levels and take limits for the lakes in the Taiari/Taieri FMU are shown in the table below. 

Given its uniqueness, it is proposed that a narrative take limit is set for Sutton Salt Lake that prohibits any new takes, damming or diversions that could impact water levels in this lagoon (except for takes that are permitted under the Resource Management Act 1991).  As there are currently no consents for the taking, damming or diversion of water from this lake, the prohibition will ensure that this water body will continue to behave naturally.  

Similar outcomes are sought for Lakes Waihola/Waihora and Waipori and three smaller lakes in the Waihola-Waipori wetlands. For these lakes new takes, damming or diversions will also become prohibited (except for takes that are permitted under the Resource Management Act 1991), while any existing takes from these lakes will be subject to the minimum flow of the Taiari/Taieri River. 

The Taiari/Taieri FMU also includes various controlled lakes or reservoirs. Lake levels for most of these controlled lakes or reservoirs will be managed by the minimum flow that will apply to Taiari/Taieri River. The only exception is Lake Mahinerangi which will continue to be managed in accordance with its consented lake level conditions.   

Any takes from these reservoirs and controlled lakes will be subject to the take limits that apply to the Taiari/Taieri River catchment. 


Environmental level(s) 

Take limit (litres per second) 

Natural lakes (unmodified) 

Salt Lake/Sutton Salt Lake  

Natural minimum water level 

Narrative - no new taking, diversions, damming or discharges from the lake or upper catchment 



Natural lakes (with consents in the upper catchment) 

Lake Waihola/Waihora  

(Taieri River catchment) 

Lake Waipōuri  

(Taieri River catchment) 

Three unnamed lakes in the Waihola-Waipori wetlands complex (Taieri River catchment) 

Existing takes subject to the minimum flow of the river catchment that the lake is located within 


Narrative - no new taking, diversions, damming or discharges from the lake. 


Existing takes subject to the take limit of the river catchment that the lake is located within 

Controlled lakes  

Lake Mahinerangi  

Consented levels 

Subject to the Taiari/Taieri River take limit 

Coalpit Dam  

Deep Stream Reservoir    

Hoffmans Dam  

Knight Dam   

Lake Edgar  

Loganburn Reservoir/Te Pariparu-a-Ta Kaunia  

Unnamed dam formed by Paerau Weir  

West Eweburn Dam   

Lake level managed by the minimum flow of the Taiari/Taieri river catchment  


Subject to the Taiari/Taieri River take limit 



River catchments

For the Taiari/Taieri River, whose hydrology has been modified by damming and water takes, “bespoke” take limits and environmental flows will be set in the new Land and Water Regional Plan. These bespoke limits will be informed by detailed scientific and technical investigations.   

To achieve the environmental outcomes of the Taiari/Taieri catchment and phase out any over-allocation of water it is proposed to set a common consent duration expiry date for any new consent granted under the Land and Water Regional Plan framework, the proposed common catchment date for the Taiari/Taieri FMU is 2034. 

Table 4: Environmental flows and take limits - Rivers


Environmental flow(s) 

Take limit 

Further allocation available (estimate based on best available information) 

River catchments managed by bespoke limits 

Taieri River upstream of Paerau* 

850 at Paerau Dam 

TBC (awaiting technical information) 


Taieri River catchment between Paerau and Waipiata* 

1,000 at Taieri River at Waipiata 


Taieri River 

catchment between 

Waipiata and Tiroiti* 

1,100 at Taieri River at Tiroiti 


Taieri River catchment between Tiroiti and Sutton* 

1,250 as Taieri River at Sutton 


Taieri River catchment between Sutton and Outram* 

2,500 at Taieri River at Outram 


*The draft environmental flows are proposed to be included in the notified version of the LWRP. However, these may be changed through a plan change post-notification following further technical work. 



For some aquifers in the Taiari/Taieri FMU, such as the Maniatoto Tertiary Aquifer and Strath Taieri Aquifer take limits will be set based on a proportion (35%) of the mean annual recharge of that aquifer. For the Lower Taiari/Taieri Aquifer (West and East) bespoke limits will be set following technical recommendations.  

National direction requires Otago Regional Council also to set environmental levels for all aquifers. As the Otago Regional Council does not have sufficient groundwater level monitoring data to set environmental levels in the Land and Water Regional Plan when it will be notified, environmental levels for these aquifers will be set at a later date.

Table 5 provides estimates of the actual takes limit for aquifers based on the default method using the best available information to determine the aquifers’ Mean Annual Recharge (MAR). The numeric take limits will not be included in the LWRP. Instead, the LWRP will refer to the relevant % of the MAR.


Table 5: Aquifers managed by default take limits


Environmental level(s) 

Take limit 

Further allocation available (estimate based on best available information) 

Aquifers managed by default limits 

  • Take limit: 35% mean annual recharge 

Maniatoto Tertiary Aquifer 

Not included in notified pLWRP 



Strath Taieri Aquifer 

Not included in notified pLWRP 




Table 6: Aquifers managed by bespoke take limits


Environmental level(s) 

Take limit 

Further allocation available (estimate based on best available information) 

Aquifers managed by bespoke limits 

West Lower Taiari/Taieri Aquifer 

Not included in notified pLWRP 



East Lower TaiariTaieri Aquifer 







Outstanding water bodies

Outstanding water bodies are water bodies that have one or more outstanding values. National direction requires the Otago Regional Council to identify outstanding water bodies and protect their important values. The table below lists the outstanding water bodies in this FMU and describes their outstanding values.

Below is a map featuring all the water bodies in Otago.

You can zoom in and view the various water bodies in an area(s).

Water bodies are shown in a blue colour. Select an area to view the water body name.

(Note: if you are on a mobile device, after selecting a water body, tap on the arrow next to the 'X' icon to view more information.)

Unique identifier 

Site identifier 

Values and characteristics 



Waipōuri River 

  • Waihora/Lake Waihola tributaries and Lakes Waipōuri and their tributaries support a landlocked population of giant kōkopu, and this population is the most northerly major population on the east coast of the South Island. 

  • There nine population fragments that make up between 4% and 8% of the dusky galaxias populations. Three of these are adjacent tributaries of the Waipori River in Te Papanui Conservation Park and a fourth is in a Queen Elizabeth II National Trust covenant in a Scenic Reserve also in the Waipori River catchment.  The majority of the Waipori River catchment populations are in unmodified protected catchments. 


Deep Stream/Deep Creek 

  • Eldon’s galaxias are located in Deep Stream and Deep Creek and comprise 29.6% and 28.5% of the total estimated area of occupancy.   


Kye Burn 

  • The largest population area of the Central Otago roundhead galaxias can be found in the Kye Burn mainstem which contains 25.3% of the occupied area.  Within the Kye Burn catchment there are an additional eighteen population fragments.  These populations are, for the most part, contiguous with the mainstem population and can be treated as a single population that accounts for 45.5% of the Central Otago roundhead galaxias occupied area. 

  • Kye Burn catchment supports three small populations of Taieri flathead in Kye Burn tributaries in the Dansey Pass area and this includes a rare sympatry zone with both Taieri flatheads and Central Otago roundhead galaxias. 


Nenthorn Stream 

  • The two largest populations of Taieri flathead galaxias occur in the upper Taieri River and Nenthorn Creek with these populations comprising 19.7% and 18.3% of the estimated total area occupied. 

  • The catchment is a low to moderate altitude area with high summer temperatures and low rainfall. 

  • Nenthorn Stream is recommended as an outstanding water body due to the large Taieri flathead populations and also the area’s environmental factors contrast strongly to the Upper Taieri outstanding water body area.  


Upper Taiari/Taieri 

  • The Central Otago roundhead galaxias, Clutha flathead, and dusky galaxias are found in the Taiari/Taieri River catchment.   

  • The two largest populations of Taieri flathead galaxias occur in the upper Taieri River and Nenthorn Creek with these populations comprising 19.7% and 18.3% of the estimated total area occupied.
  • The upper Taieri area has additional ecological values with the area having small populations of dusky galaxias and Teviot flathead galaxias giving rise to high non-diadromous species diversity in this area.   


Waihora / Lake Waihola tributaries 

  • Waihora/Lake Waihola tributaries and Lakes Waipōuri and their tributaries support a landlocked population of giant kōkopu, and this population is the most northerly major population on the east coast of the South Island.  

  • Waihora/Lake Waihola have additional fishery values with them being habitat for inanga and they provide inanga spawning areas in the tidal areas of the two lakes. Two of the un-named tributaries of the lakes with adult giant kōkopu populations also have populations of Eldon’s galaxias in the upper reaches and longfin eel in the mid and lower reaches. 


Waipōuri / Waihola Wetland Complex 

  • Waipōuri/Waihola Wetland Complex has a significant bird fauna, that includes threatened species, with at least sixteen native waterfowl species reported (Australasian bittern, Australasian shoveler, Black backed gull, Black billed gull, Grey teal, Aotearoa scaup, Otago shag, Paradise shelduck, Pukeko, Royal spoonbill, Pied stilt, Sacred kingfisher, South Island pied oystercatcher, Spotless crake, Variable oystercatcher, White faced heron). 

  • Large size (2000 hectares) and contiguous expanse provides habitat for a wide range of ecosystems and services. Considered the best remaining example of a lowland wetland remaining in Otago and one of the largest and most significant remaining in Aotearoa. 

  • Scored a weighted conservation rank of 4.2 within the FENZ/WONI analysis. 

  • This wetland satisfied 10 out of 11 APP2 criteria. 

  • The area is nationally and internationally recognised as a refuge for threatened flora and fauna. 

  • Internationally important bird habitat with counts of up to 10,000 ducks and swans recorded and habitat/breeding grounds for a large number of bird species. 55 species of birds have been recorded with several being endemic, including the Fernbird (Bowdleria punctata punctata) 

  • Nationally important fish habitat with 12 species of native fish recorded. Both lakes contain giant kōkopu (Galaxias argenteus), banded kōkopu (Galaxias fasciatus), inanga, long and short finned eels (Anguilla dieffenbachia and Anguilla australis), bullies, common smelt, lamprey, flounder, mullet, perch and brown trout.  
  • A considerable portion of the wetland is relatively undisturbed and contains a sequence of different vegetation types which adds to the botanical value. Plant communities are largely native including the Threatened swamp nettle and tufted hair-grass. Other vegetation noted includes a composition of Carex sinclairii, flax and coprosma.  

  • Aquatic plants include blunt pondweed (Potamogeton ochreatus), red pondweed (P. cheesemanii), water milfoil (Myriophyllum triphyllum), and turfland plants Lilaeopsis novae-zelandiae and Glossostigma elatinoides. A remnant of mixed shrub and kanuka (Kunzea ericoides) forest contains species Coprosma crassifolia, and korokio (Corokia cotoneaster). 


Upper Taiari/Taieri Wetlands Complex 

  • Large size (2727 hectares) and contiguous expanse provides habitat for a wide range of ecosystems and services. This is the only scroll-plain in Aotearoa with a unique combination of wetland habitats and significant hydrologic values. It is considered the best remaining example of this type in Otago and the only significant inland/upland (600 metre max altitude) habitat of this type left in Aotearoa. 

  • The Aotearoa Landform Inventory has given the Taiari/Taieri wetland a high rating, with scenic, scientific and educational importance. 

  • Scored a 1.0 (highest rank) within the FENZ/WONI analysis with a weighted conservation rank of 19.3 produced. 

  • This was the only wetland assessed to meet all APP2 criteria. 

  • Internationally important habitat for waterfowl and noted as one of the 10 most valuable habitats for waterfowl in Aotearoa. Noted presence of 52 bird species and several threatened species, including the Nationally Threatened Australasian Bittern and the Banded Dotterel. 27 of these birds are considered dependant on the wetland to meet specialized needs. 

  • Native waterfowl that breed in the scroll plain include Aotearoa Shoveller (Anas rhynchotis variegata), Grey Teal (Anas gracilis), Grey Duck (Anas superciliosa), Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) and Paradise Shelduck (Tadorna variegata). Waders that have been recorded include Marsh Crake (Porzana pusilla affinis), Australasian Bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus), White-faced Heron (Ardea novaehollandiae), Swamp Hen (Porphyrio melanotus), Pied Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) and South Island Pied Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus finschi). 

  • This area contains very high species diversity and provides critical habitat for the lifecycles of fauna, including many indigenous birds. 

  • Native fish present include longfin eel (Anguilla dieffenbachii), lamprey (Geotria australis), common bully (Gobiomorphus cotidianus), upland bully (Gobiomorphus breviceps) and other non-migratory galaxiids. 

  • Vegetation noted on site includes Lepidium sisymbrioides, the Threatened tufted hair-grass (Deschampsia cespitosa) and the Aotearoa mousetail (Myosurus minimus subsp. novae-zelandiae), a spring annual which has a threat status of Nationally Critical.  


Te Paruparu-a-Te-Kaunia/Great Moss Swamp 

  • The site scored a high weighted conservation rank of 29.7 within the FENZ/WONI analysis (high rank). 

  • A large, but remnant wetland area (422.6 hectares), with outstanding site integrity (100% natural with 47% left). 

  • One of the few remaining subalpine swamp areas in the Rock and Pillar Ecological District. 

  • Recorded threatened plant species include the tufted hair-grass (Deschampsia caespitosa) and Carex secta var. tenuiculmus. Areas of red tussock (Chionochloa rubra), silver tussock (Poa cita), sedge tussock (Schoenus pauciflorus) and Sphagnum squarrosum. 

  • The presence of Sphagnum porina (Heloxycanus patricki), a moth classified as in 'gradual decline', has been recorded. Hemiandrus 'Rocklands', a small ground weta, has also been recorded here. 


Whawha-raupō/Swampy Summit Swamp 

  • The area is somewhat small in size (48.4 hectares) but is high elevation (720 metres) and is recorded to have outstanding site integrity (99% natural with 15% left). 

  • The site scored an outstanding weighted conservation rank of 1.0 within the FENZ/WONI analysis. 

  • Listed as an Area of Significant Conservation Value in the Dunedin City District Plan of national and regional significance. 

  • Presence of the carabid beetle (Oregus inaequalis), a Category B species of Aotearoa's threatened fauna.  

  • Contains a high diversity of habitat types, with peat bogs and associated plant communities that provide important habitat for threatened South Island Fernbird (Bowdleria punctata punctata) and other species. 


Sutton Salt Lake Wetland Management Area 

  • Sutton Salt Lake is Aotearoa's only inland salt lake. 

  • The lake has an important sequence of salt tolerant vegetation around its margin and there are five main vegetation zones that have been described at the lake: 

  • A narrow fringe of salt tolerant vegetation at the lakes margin.
  • An algal zone submerged in winter or when lake is full. 

  • Rough pasture with exotic grasses, hard tussock (Festuca novaezelandiae) and a few shrubs. 

  • Communities on rock outcrops. 

  • Shallow boggy depressions near the lake. 

  • Threatened plant species Gratiola nana, Isolepis basilaris and Crassula peduncularis have been recorded on site. 

  • A range of water birds and waders use the lake, feeding on the tiny shrimplike organisms which occur there.  

  • The roundhead galaxiid (Galaxias anomalus) has been recorded on site. 

  • Invertebrate species recorded at the site include Arctesthes catapyrrha, Eudonia sabulosella, Eudonia leptalea, Eurythecta zelaea, Lycaena boldenarum, Orocrambus corruptus and Phylacodes cauta. 

  • Other aquatic fauna includes Brachionus plicatilis (very abundant), Microcyclops (Metacyclops), monacanthus (scarce), Diacypris spp. (abundant) and Ephydrella spp. (scarce), including an endemic species of Ephydrella novaezealandiae. 


Mauka Atua Summit Wetland Management Area 

  • The site scored an extremely high weighted conservation rank of 2.0 within the FENZ/WONI analysis (very high rank). 

  • A large wetland area (1213 hectares), with very high site integrity (91% natural with 47% left). 

  • Mauka Atua WMA is the only remaining example of high altitude wetlands on the eastern side of the Waipori Ecological District and has been described as ‘a tarn, restiad bog, and tussockland cushion bog of national significance.’ 

  • Cushion-forming plants are confined to poorly drained areas on the summit ridge. Scattered tarns are surrounded by Sphagnum spp. and sedges. Small sized cushion bog areas occupy the poorly drained peaty depressions in snow-tussock grassland at a height of about 800 m ASL on the summit-ridge. Over 10 different cushion plant species can be found in the wetland, together with an insectivorous sundew (Drosera arcturi) and several lichens. The prominent rounded cushions are of Donatia novaezelandiae, a species confined to cool peaty wetlands between the Tararua Range and Stewart Island. 


Patearoa Inland Saline Wetland 

  • Because of its combined botanical and entomological values, Patearoa is considered the most important example of a saline wetland in Central Otago and Aotearoa. 

  • The Department of Conservation considers the Patearoa Inland Saline Wetland to be a highly important site for biological conservation, where it was given a rank of #1 (1 being highest value to 11 lowest value). This is based on the geographical extent, relative representativeness (the extent to which the site represents the assumed 1840 condition), diversity and rarity of biota and soils. 

  • Patearoa has been ranked as a soil site of international importance. 

  • Patearoa scored yes in 8 out of 11 pORPS APP2 criteria – rarity ((d)(i), (d)(ii), (d)(iii), (d)(iv), diversity (e), distinctiveness (fii), and ecological context ((g)(ii), (g)(iv)). 

  • Saline adapted invertebrate species recorded include Arctesthes catapyrrha, Capua semiferana, Crocydopora cinigerella, Eudonia sabulosella, Eudonia leptalea, Eurythecta zelaea, Loxostege sp. nov., Lycaena boldenarum, Orocrambus corruptus, Paranotoreas brephosata, Paranotoreas fulva, Phaeosaces sp. nov., Scopula rubraria, Scoriodyta suttonensis, Scythris triatma, Sporophylla oenospora, Stenoptilia celidota, Zizina oxleyi and the endemic grasshopper Sigaus campestris. 

  • The plant community has been described as communities of low pH, low conductivity soils with short tussock grassland, depleted herbfield/shrubland, grassland/ herbfield, and exotic perennial grassland/ herbfields with communities of permanently moist or wet soils of near neutral pH and low salinity with sedgeland/ rushland plants, and communities of soil with relatively high pH and conductivity with salt meadow on slightly salty moist areas and salt grassland/ herbfield on dry salt pan. Presence of threatened plant. 



Taiari/Taieri River meanders 

  • Nationally Significant 

Best example of a meandering river in Aotearoa. Has a high degree of curvature and shows all stages of ox-bow formation.  

  • Upper Taiari/Taieri River - Serpentine Flats. 


Taiari/Taieri River gorge 

  • Regionally Significant 

Excellent example of a large, deeply incised, meandering river gorge. Of high scenic and aesthetic value.  

  • Runs for c.30km between Pukerangi and Maka Kahikātoa/Outram. 


Taiari/Taieri River mouth gorge 

  • Internationally Significant 

Unmodified and well-defined coastal gorge.  

  • Just inland from Taiari/Taieri River mouth. 


Sutton Salt Lake and lowland tors 

  • Nationally Significant 

Unusual inland saline lake and easily accessible example of lowland tors. Only salt lake in Aotearoa.  

Forms each year during rainy season and evaporates away during dry season.  

  • locality 1-2km west of highway 87, 10km south of Middlemarch centre. 


None identified. 

Natural character 


Ida Range 

Active Bed 

  • Intact and largely unmodified streams with small and steep catchments. 

  • Includes the headwaters of the Kye Burn and Swin Burn which provide important fish habitat.