Pastoral leases and licences

This section explains the three ways farmers can use Crown pastoral land: pastoral leases; pastoral occupation licences; and special leases.

Pastoral leases

Pastoral leases are the most common land use arrangement, and were created in the 1940s and 1950s under the Land Act 1948. They run for 33 years and can be continually renewed. We are not creating any new leases.

Pastoral leases give the person holding the lease – the lessee – exclusive possession of the land, and the right to graze the land. Lessees need permission to carry out other activities on their lease.

We review the rent paid for pastoral leases every 11 years, basing the rent on how much stock the land can carry for pastoral farming.
Find out more about rent review

Lessees can gain freehold title over part of the land under a voluntary process known as tenure review. Under this process, areas of the lease can be restored to full Crown ownership, usually as conservation land managed by the Department of Conservation.

Find out more about tenure review

Download the Guide for Pastoral Leaseholders for more information on the rights and obligations of pastoral lessees (PDF 447.54 KB)

Pastoral occupation licences

Pastoral occupation licences allow the licensee to use pastoral land for a fixed term, often to graze stock over summer months.

The conditions attached to these licences are usually more restrictive than those attached to pastoral leases. There is no automatic right to renew the licence when it expires.

No new occupation licences are available. Remaining licences are subject to a compulsory review at the end of the licence period.

Special leases

Special leases allow temporary pastoral grazing and are created on a case-by-case basis. They are subject to a range of restrictions.