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Intensive winter grazing

Intensive winter grazing is a farming practice where livestock is grazed on paddocks planted with annual forage crops, any time from 1 May to 30 September.

The definition includes activities on a farm that support intensive winter grazing (IWG) and that may occur year-round, such as the preparation and sowing of land for grazing and the cultivation of annual forage crops.

Government Updates

Government intends to make changes to Resource Management Act. As part of the changes, they propose to remove national intensive winter grazing regulations in time for the 2025 winter grazing season.

It's important to note that while the government has indicated plans to repeal national intensive winter grazing rules, the current national IWG requirements and rules within the Tairāwhiti Resource Management Plan (TRMP) may still  apply to you.

In accordance with the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater 2020 (NES-F), new national IWG requirements came into force on 1 November 2022, introducing regulations around what can be done as a ‘Permitted Activity’ and what needs a resource consent.

These policies and legislations came into effect in 2020:
Tairāwhiti region context

Due to Cyclone Gabrielle, the Freshwater Farm Plan rollout in Te Tairāwhiti has been delayed. It's now expected to be in 2025. Until the framework for freshwater farm plans is in place, Council will provide 3 regulatory pathways for farmers to undertake their IWG activities on their land:

  1. meet all permitted activity criteria,
  2. apply for a deemed permitted activity, or
  3. apply for a resource consent.

Checklist - do I need a resource consent?

This checklist will guide you if your intensive winter grazing is permitted, or if you need to apply for deemed permitted activity or a resource consent. Download the checklist


A Permitted Activity regulation rule outlines certain conditions that need to be met to operate without consent.

You can practice intensive winter grazing (IWG) as a Permitted Activity if you can meet all the following criteria:

IWG was carried out on your farm between 1 July 2014 and 30 June 2019.

The total area you will use for IWG in the future is no more than the maximum area used in any one year between the above dates (eg. If you carried out 20ha of IWG in 2014, 15ha in 2016 and nothing after that, then the maximum area you can use for IWG going forward is 20ha).

The area of the farm that's used for IWG must be no greater than 50 hectares or 10 percent of the total area of the farm, whichever is greater.

The slope of any land planted in annual forage crop used for IWG must be 10 degrees or less, and is determined by measuring the slope over any 20-metre distance.

Critical source areas (CSA) must be protected. Any CSA that's within, or adjacent to, any area of land used for IWG must comply with the following restrictions between 1 May and 30 September:

  • not be grazed,
  • have vegetation maintained as ground cover,
  • not be cultivated in annual forage crops,
  • not have annual forage crops harvested.

Livestock are kept at least 5m away from the bed of any river, lake, wetland or drain (subsurface drains are not included in this condition) regardless of if there is water present at the time.

Additional Note: Tairāwhiti Resource Management Plan – Winter Grazing Rule 6.2.9(5): Stock are excluded within 10m of the top of the bank or edge of any Aquatic Ecosystem Waterbody (Schedule G15), Outstanding Waterbody (Schedule G18) or Regionally Significant Wetland (Schedule G17) for the period 1 May to 30 September on all winter intensive grazing land of less than a 15-degree slope.

  • All reasonably practicable steps are taken to minimise adverse effects from pugging land that is used for IWG, and to ensure vegetation is established as ground cover over the whole area of that land as soon as practicable after grazing.

If you can meet all of these criteria, you can practice IWG as a Permitted Activity.

If not, you will need to apply for a Deemed Permitted Activity or Resource Consent.

A Deemed Permitted Activity allows farmers who are not able to meet the Permitted Activity criteria for slope (<10 degrees) to undertake intensive winter grazing (IWG) on sloping land between 10 and 15 degrees. Anything above 15 degrees will require a resource consent.

To apply for a Deemed Permitted Activity, you will need –
  • To meet all other permitted activity criteria,
  • To provide a IWG Management Plan – to demonstrate, by outlining good management practices, that the adverse effects on the environment are no different in character, intensity, or scale to those of a permitted activity. Government and industry organisations have developed several IWG management templates and guidance documents you can use to make your plan – see ‘Additional resources’.

How to apply for a Deemed Permitted Activity

  1. Complete a IWG Management Plan (in as much detail as possible) and send to our Land Management team for review.
    If needed, you may be requested to provide additional information at this stage.
  1. The team will provide a recommendation to our Resource Consents Manager as to whether Deemed Permitted Activity applies or not, within 5 working days.
  1. Resource Consents Manager provides a signed memo confirming status of application.
  1. Consents team sends the signed memo back to the applicant.

Additional information

  • Applications for a Deemed Permitted Activity will be charged at actual and reasonable cost, as per the Council's Fees & Charges. Talking to us early about your application and what you're proposing to do and submitting a detailed IWG Management Plan, may help to reduce the total cost of fees.
  • A Deemed Permitted Activity for IWG will be issued for up to 24 months. After that time, farmers will need to apply for a resource consent or ensure they have a freshwater farm plan in place.

Farmers who cannot meet all the permitted or deemed permitted criteria will need to apply for a resource consent.

For advice on this, please refer to the resource consent webpage.

We're here to help

If you have any questions regarding IWG rules, practices or pathways within our region, please give us a call or send us an email with your question and our Land Management team will get back to you with advice.

  • Intensive winter grazing factsheet
  • Groundcovers: Guidance for intensive winter grazing
  • Critical source areas: Guidance for intensive winter grazing
  • Pugging: Guidance for intensive winter grazing
  • Intensive Winter Grazing Module – Guide
  • Intensive Winter Grazing Module – Template
  • Intensive Winter Grazing Regulations – what does it mean for me? (pdf)
  • Forage Cropping Management Plan – Guide
  • Forage Cropping Management Plan – Template
  • Your Winter Grazing Plan – Guide and Template
  • Wintering Checklist

Critical Source Area (CSA) - means a landscape feature such as a gully, swale or depression that accumulates surface run-off from adjacent land; and delivers, or has the potential to deliver, one or more contaminants to one or more rivers, lakes, wetlands, or surface drains, or their beds (regardless of whether there is any water in them at the time).

Drain – means any artificial watercourse designed, constructed, or used for the drainage of surface water, but excl. artificial watercourses used for the conveyance of water for electricity generation, irrigation, or water supply purposes.

Forage Crop – means a crop that is grazed in the place where it is grown. It excludes perennial pastures and crops grown for arable or horticultural land uses.

Intensive Winter Grazing (IWG) – means the grazing of livestock on an annual forage crop at any time in the period that begins on 1 May and ends with the close of 30 September of the same year.

Slope – now defined as the maximum slope (i.e. the elevation difference across any 20m distance) for any area being used for IWG. This replaces the definition of slope as ‘mean slope across a paddock’.

Swale - A shallow depression on the land surface that is covered in grass or other vegetation, that is natural or man-made and that serves to collect and drain overland stormwater run-off.

Winter Intensive Grazing – means grazing of stock from 1 May to 30 September on feed crops or pasture to the extent that the grazing results in significant devegetation.