Resource Management (Stock Exclusion) Regulations 2020

The stock exclusion regulations prohibit the access of cattle, pigs and deer to wetlands, lakes, and rivers. They come into force from 3 September 2020.

Link to the regulations

Material incorporated by reference

Low slope land

About the regulations

  • These regulations, in force from 3 September 2020, apply to a person who owns or controls beef cattle, dairy cattle, dairy support cattle, deer or pigs (stock). The regulations require the person to exclude stock from specified wetlands, lakes, and rivers more than one metre wide. 
  • Dairy cattle, dairy support cattle, and pigs must be excluded from the water bodies regardless of the terrain. 
  • Beef cattle and deer must be excluded from the water bodies regardless of terrain if they are break-feeding or grazing annual forage crops or irrigated pasture. Otherwise, the requirements apply to beef cattle and deer only on mapped low slope land. 
  • Stock must be excluded from the beds of lakes, rivers and wetlands, and must not be on land closer than three metres to the bed of rivers and lakes. However, stock need not be excluded from land within three metres of the bed if there is a permanent fence in place on 3 September 2020. 
  • Stock, except deer, may only cross a river or lake by using a dedicated bridge or culvert, unless they cross no more than twice in any month. The regulation sets out specified circumstances when cattle and pigs can cross without a dedicated culvert or bridge. Deer are not subject to restrictions for crossing rivers and lakes.

Purpose of the regulations

Reducing the impact of damage to our waterways from livestock

When livestock enter water bodies they contaminate the water and damage the banks. Heavy livestock (cattle and deer) and pigs have the greatest impact.

Livestock dung has disease-causing organisms that present health risks to people in contact with the water. It also contains nutrients that promote weed growth and decrease the water body’s ability to support a healthy ecosystem.

When stock trample banks and beds of water bodies they increase streambank erosion and sediment runoff. This has an adverse effect on habitats including those used by fish spawning. 

New Zealanders value being able to use water bodies for recreation and mahinga kai (food gathering) 

Stock access to water bodies compromises these values. Stock in rivers and declining water quality has contributed to a negative perception of the primary sector industry among the New Zealand public. 

Keeping stock out of water bodies is a way to protect freshwater

Around 81,000 km of rivers more than one metre wide flow through pastoral land. Stock owners have already fenced around 60 per cent of these. These regulations mean that cattle, pigs and deer will be excluded from another 32,000 km of rivers by 1 July 2025. 

Find out more

Cabinet papers and related materials

Cabinet Paper: Action for healthy waterways – Decisions on national direction and regulations for freshwater management

Related publications

Regulatory impact statement - Action for healthy waterways part 1: Summary and overall impacts

Action for healthy waterways part 2: Detailed analysis (see pages 310 to 342)

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