Stock access to water

There are rules under both our Regional Water Plan and the Resource Management (Stock Exclusion) Regulations 2020 which restrict stock access to water.

Under our regional rules, livestock can only disturb the bed of a lake, river or regionally significant wetland (excluding intentional driving of livestock) as long as:

  • you are not feeding out on the bed of the river or lake or the wetland
  • your stock do not cause or induce noticeable slumping, pugging or erosion
  • your stock do not cause a visual change in colour or clarity of the water; and
  • your stock do not damage fauna or New Zealand native flora in or on any regionally significant wetland

Under the Resource Management (Stock Exclusion) Regulations 2020:

  • Dairy and beef cattle, deer and pigs farmed in low-slope areas (less than a 10-degree slope are not permitted in any wetland, lake, or in any river or stream more than a metre wide (bank-to-bank). Stock must be restricted from grazing within three metres from the banks of these waterways.
  • On steeper hill country, stock exclusion applies for all dairy cattle and pigs. It also applies to deer and beef cattle, for some wetlands, and where intensive farming practices are undertaken.
  • Sheep are not included in these regulations.

Compliance with these regulations will be required immediately for new pastoral systems, and from 1 July 2023 or 1 July 2025 for existing systems depending on the stock type, activities and location.


Further information

Low-slope farm areas

Resource Management (Stock Exclusion) Regulations 2020

Ministry for the Environment essential freshwater stock exclusion fact sheet

Ministry for the Environment stock exclusion implementation guidance


Frequently Asked Question

Do I have to put permanent fencing 5m back from waterways?

No, you can use temporary fencing where stock are grazing. Neither the NES-FW nor the Stock Exclusion Regulations specify the method by which stock should be excluded.

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