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Lake Taupō Protection Project

This page provides an overview of the Lake Taupō Protection Project which is improving the lake’s water quality. The project runs to mid-2019.

Project details

Project cost $79.2 million
Crown funding $35.6 million
Location Taupō, Waikato
Parties Ngāti Tūwharetoa as kaitiaki of the lake, Waikato Regional Council, Taupō District Council, Lake Taupō Protection Trust.
Project purpose To prevent the further deterioration of water quality in Lake Taupō by reducing the volume of nitrogen entering the lake by 20 per cent.
Project timeframe



Lake Taupō is our biggest natural lake and is treasured by New Zealanders. In the late 1990s regional council monitoring showed that water quality in the lake was declining. This was due to increased concentrations of nitrogen leaching from the surrounding land that is used for pastoral farming. The result is increased algal growth and decreased water clarity.

In 2007 the Government, Waikato Regional Council and Taupō District Council committed $79.2 million to reduce nitrogen inputs to the lake.

Funded work

The lake’s water quality issues are being addressed by the following action plan.

  • Reduce nitrogen levels in Lake Taupō by 20 per cent to manageable levels by purchasing nitrogen from landowners through a nitrogen-discharge trading system.
  • Place covenants for 999 years on the property titles of these landowners to maintain nitrogen reductions in the future.
  • Develop robust land-use controls to secure the gains made when land owners opt to change from pastoral to lower nitrogen leaching land uses.
  • Provide practical advice and assistance to farmers and other land owners for business planning and research into land uses that produce low levels of nitrogen and help maintain a viable rural economy.

Project update – February 2017

By mid-2015, the Lake Taupō Protection Trust secured nitrogen reduction agreements totalling 170 tonnes meeting the project target. This has been achieved through strong collaboration and commitment from all parties, but particularly landowners through land use change.

The project is now focusing on monitoring to ensure that water quality is sustained for future generations. 

Find out more

Protecting Lake Taupō [Waikato Regional Council website]

The Lake Taupo Project [video 19.09 minutes] by Waikato Regional Council