Land Use Directory Overview

Over the past 20 years, land users and the general public throughout New Zealand have become increasingly aware of the sensitive and complex nature of the environment in which we live. The issue of maintaining and improving water quality is becoming a key issue which many organisations and individuals are working on.

Within the Bay of Plenty, maintaining water quality of the lakes is a prime concern and has given rise to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s (BOPRC) Plan Change 10, which focuses on improving water quality in the Lake Rotorua catchment. During the next decade, land users in the catchment will face a number of challenges, which will involve having to balance initiatives to help improve water quality with the need to produce an income from the land.

The Rotorua Land Use Directory – Tahuri Whenua is a guide to help land users in the Lake Rotorua catchment evaluate other land use options that may be available to them.  The directory has been published in both this website format and as a book which is freely available at Bay of Plenty Regional Council offices and local Rotorua libraries.  The book is also available as a pdf download here.

The website contains all the information that is in the hardcopy directory, along with access to the sources of information and other resources.

How to use this Directory

This directory is divided into three main sections:

  1. Rotorua Environment which includes environmental information about the Lake Rotorua catchment including climate, soil and topography data; and
  2. Land Uses which consists of existing and potential land uses that are considered to be suitable for the Lake Rotorua catchment;
  3. Catchment Map which shows the properties, rainfall, slope and soil order (general type) for the catchment.

There is also information on Plan Change 10 and other relevant factors which may constrain land use in the Lake Rotorua catchment.

How were the land uses selected?

There were a number of criteria that influenced which land uses could be selected for this directory.

Firstly, land uses could not be included in the directory if they leach a high level of nutrients, especially nitrogen, and require regular soil disturbances, e.g. cultivating. These factors eliminated many crops from the directory. Reduction of the nitrogen load entering Lake Rotorua is a key objective of BOPRC’s Plan Change 10.

Secondly, the climate will always play a crucial part in determining which land uses are possible. In the Lake Rotorua catchment, high rainfall, low temperatures, relatively high humidity and the occasional presence of early and late frosts were key constraints which excluded [1] many horticultural land uses.

Thirdly, land uses were not included if they required an artificial environment, such as a greenhouse, for growing. It was felt that a Rotorua Land Use Directory should reflect Rotorua environmental characteristics.

Lastly, industry factors, such as the presence or lack of suppliers, processing infrastructure and well-developed market channels, were also factors that determined if a land use could be made viable or not.

It should be noted that the absence of industry factors does not necessarily mean some land uses are not viable. There are entrepreneurial land users around the country who, despite a lack of processing infrastructure or market channels, have endeavoured to work around these issues and set up their own solutions.

This directory does identify agricultural land uses that are traditional to the Lake Rotorua catchment. It also highlights some potential land uses which, although they each may face some hurdles, could offer the prospect of a worthwhile endeavour if the challenges are resolved.

Importantly, any land use change planned for the Lake Rotorua catchment would need to be modelled for nitrogen leaching, either in Overseer or an alternative nutrient budgeting model approved by the Regional Council, and a Nutrient Management Plan developed to ensure that nutrient limits for a property could be met.


[1] This includes crops like kiwifruit, which have been grown around Rotorua but are well outside the crop’s optimum growing conditions, such as frost risk and growing degree days.


Land Use sections

Each land use section contains seven categories:

  1. Overview – a brief overview of the land use.
  2. Markets – a summary of products and markets.
  3. Production – key factors involved in the growing or production process of the land use.
  4. Infrastructure – identification of any specific infrastructure requirements that may be required.
  5. Environment – a summary of any environmental factors that may affect the land use or land use issues which may impact on the environment.
  6. Returns – a broad outline of gross returns that could be expected from the land use along with any key investment requirements.
  7. Useful links – containing information on contacts, resources and references.
Nitrogen leaching indicator

Nitrogen Leaching: Low

Within the environmental issues section of each land use, there is a nitrogen leaching indicator which gives a visual indication of the nitrogen leaching potential of the land use. There are several potential levels used:

  • Low (green) indicates a low nitrogen leaching land use of <18 kg/ha/year;
  • Low – Med (green and orange) means the nitrogen leaching rate is at the lower end of the medium range.
  • Med (orange) indicates a medium range of nitrogen leaching from 19–54 kg/ha/year;
  • High (red) indicates a high nitrogen leaching land use of >55 kg/ha/year.
  • Unknown indicates there is no nitrogen leaching information currently available for this land use.

The three main levels used within this directory are Low, Low – Med and Unknown.  Land uses with Med or High nitrogen leaching rates will require intervention to reduce their nitrogen leaching levels to acceptable levels.

Any land use change planned for the Lake Rotorua catchment would need to be modelled for nitrogen leaching, either in Overseer or an alternative nutrient budgeting model approved by the Regional Council, and a Nutrient Management Plan developed to ensure that nutrient limits for a property could be met.


The information in this Rotorua Land Use Directory is a guide only to potential land use options in the Rotorua catchment and is intended to provide general information to the public.

While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this directory, Te Arawa Primary Sector, Inc. and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council make no warranty, express or implied, nor assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, any error of fact, omission, interpretation or opinion which may be present, nor for the consequences of any financial decision based on the information contained in this directory.

In addition, Te Arawa Primary Sector, Inc. and Bay of Plenty Regional Council, their related entities, officers, employees, agents or contractors will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential or incidental loss or damage sustained by any person, trust, incorporation or organisation relying on the information in this directory.

The information in this directory should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional services and should not be construed as advice, whether legal, financial, technical or otherwise in any given situation. In such cases, it is recommended that services of a competent professional adviser be sought.