District Plan FAQs

Still trying to get your head around the District Plan? We have covered some of the frequently asked questions:

What is the District Plan?

The Waitaki District Plan is the community’s rulebook, setting out how we use and develop the land within our district. 

EVERYONE is affected by the District Plan because it helps shape how we live, work and play in the Waitaki district. Its provisions are designed to ensure the environment, and the things people love about living in the Waitaki are protected while still enabling our District can grow and prosper.

What issues does the District Plan deal with?

The District Plan outlines how Council will manage district resources. This might include:

  • Growth – where we accommodate it and what it looks like
  • Land use activities such as residential, commercial, industrial and farming
  • Visitor accommodation
  • Subdivision of land and associated earthworks
  • Protecting historic heritage, landscapes, natural features and biodiversity
  • Managing natural hazards
  • Activities on the surface of water in rivers and lakes

The District Plan deals with these issues and many more.

How does the District Plan affect me?

The positive outcomes achieved through the District Plan generally go unnoticed for most people. It is often not until someone wants to start a new activity or redevelop their property that they become aware of the District Plan regulations and the intended outcomes...or worse, when something happens next to their property that they don’t like!

The District Plan affects the way you and your neighbours can do a range of activities, such as how you use and develop your property, as well as where activities should occur. 

The District Plan regulates these activities through objectives, policies, rules, and definitions. 

What's in it for me?

Some common ways the District Plan can affect you:

It affects:

  • How close to the boundary you can build or extend your house, garage, or other buildings
  • How many dwellings you can have on your property
  • Whether you can subdivide your property
  • Whether you can operate a business from your home
  • Whether you can rent your house as an AirBnB

What's in it for my community?

Some common ways the District Plan can affect our community 

  • It influences the shape and future feel of our towns and communities
  • It protects the uniqueness of our urban and rural communities
  • It makes us more resilient to natural hazards
  • It ensures there is accessible open space for recreation

What's in it for our environment?

Some common ways the District Plan can affect our environment

  • It protects our indigenous biodiversity
  • It affects what can occur in our special environments – like forestry
  • It protects our unique landscapes and geology


Watch videos or listen to the podcasts below to learn more about the key proposed changes in the Waitaki Draft District Plan and how they may impact you. 

What's in it for our towns?

In this video, we’ll look at how the Draft District Plan MAY change things for homes and businesses in the towns around our district.


  • Will people have more choice when they build a house? -0:25
  • Where will the small sections be? -0:48
  • Are there going to be more houses in town? -1:26
  • Can grandma come and live with us? -1:57
  • Will our towns keep getting bigger? -2:24
  • Will  it be easy to start a business from home? -3:01
  • Where will the factories go? -3:45
  • What can happen in a Mixed use zone? -4:30
  • How are we encouraging retail or living spaces in the town centres? -5:12

Listen to the Podcast


Watch the video


What's in it for our rural areas?

In this video, we’ll look at how the Draft District Plan MAY change things for households and businesses in the rural areas.


  • What has changed for our rural areas? -0:32
  • What happens if a farmer wants to do something different? -1:57
  • What are we doing about forestry and carbon farming? -2:53
  • Can people plant tress near their boundary? -3:21
  • Can I have a guest accommodation on site? - 3:47
  • I am worried about more people living in the rural areas and complaining about my activities. How am I protected from this? - 4:15
  • What else can I do in a rural area without a consent?  - 5:10
  • What's in the District Plan for farmers? - 5:33

Listen to the Podcast


Watch the Video


What's in it for our community?

In this video, we’ll look at how the Draft District Plan MAY change our community life in Waitaki. 


  • I am worried about the noise or glare from my neighbours. What protects me from this? -0:20
  • What is happening with our coastline, sea level rise and erosion?  -1:09
  • Will we get more flooding and have to move? -1:49
  • How are we looking after our old buildings? -2:12
  • What Maori values are recognised and protected? - 3:27

Listen to the Podcast

Watch the Video


What's in it for our environment?

The video explains environment issues from the Draft District Plan - landscapes and significant natural features, earthworks, native plants and animals and more.


  • What important areas or features are protected? -0:18
  • How are we looking after our native plants and animals?  -1:43
  • Are we doing enough to protect waterways? - 3:10
  • Who is going to pay for all of this? - 5:36

Listen to the Podcast

Watch the Video





Draft District Plan feedback - why should I get involved?

The Draft District Plan is a chance for the community to feedback to us informally, whether we are on the right track or not.

Following your feedback, we will consider what changes need to be made before we jump into the more formal part of a plan review – public notification of the Proposed District Plan. It’s only at the Proposed stage that the new rules have effect. 

Remember: as the name goes, this is just a draftThe Draft District Plan has what we refer to as ‘no weight’ – this means that the rules don’t have effect, so this is your opportunity to provide feedback.

How to use the District Plan?

To find out what is allowed to happen on a piece of land refer to the District Plan Maps on our website, locate the property and identify the zone it is located in.

As well as the zones, you should also check for any ‘overlays. An overlay identifies distinctive values, risks (such as a floodplain) or other factors that may require management in a different way to the underlying zone. Each zone and overlay has its own chapter containing the objectives, policies and rules.

Objective: the goal or outcome – what we want to achieve through our District Plan

Policy: sets out and indicates how we will achieve our goal or outcomes

Rule: identifies whether a consent is required and sets the standards that need to be complied with for an activity e.g. the hours you can operate your business or the height you can build your house.

Check out Part 1 of the Draft District Plan and our ‘how to’ guides on using the Plan and the maps.

Why is the District Plan being reviewed?

We are required by law to review our District Plan every 10 years. As you can imagine, a lot has changed since 2010.

Our current plan requires updating for the following reasons:

  • For us to comply with the ever-changing rules and regulations
  • We’re living in changing times, a changing world, and our district faces new challenges when it comes to how land is used, including climate change, coastal erosion and natural hazards like flooding and fire
  • Identify issues that affect our community and find ways to make the district plan work for the resources and our community values.
  • Allows communities to reassess environmental outcomes and priorities, and redefine their vision for the future of the district.

Does the Draft District Plan have any legal effect?

No, our Draft District Plan has no legal effect until notified as a Proposed District Plan. It’s an informal document for feedback purposes only.

Because of this, it is an extra chance for the community to feedback to us informally, for us to know whether we are on the right track or not.


Who makes the final decisions?

The District Plan decision making process is ultimately determined by the elected Council, however the Proposed District Plan will have been shaped and developed by the feedback we receive from the community.