We manage around 1.2 million hectares of Crown pastoral land in the South Island high country, stretching from Marlborough to Southland, including pastoral leases.

Leases for pastoral farming

The Commissioner of Crown Lands (CCL), an independent statutory officer who is employed by Toitū Te Whenua, leases most of this land out on a long-term basis for pastoral farming.

The CCL delegates most of the decision making responsibilities to Toitū Te Whenua staff. This means that we help the CCL manage pastoral leases, through carrying out property inspections, processing consents to carry out certain activities, and conducting lease renewals and rent reviews. 

Pastoral leases run for 33 years and lessees have an ongoing right of renewal. Lessees have ownership rights over the land relating to grazing and improvements for example, fencing, tracks, buildings, along with the right of exclusive possession and quiet enjoyment.

Anyone wishing to access pastoral lease land, or travel over it to reach other land, must have the permission of the leaseholder before doing so.

Pastoral leases are working farms with a number of hazards, and they are also where a number of lessees live. For these reasons, lessees make the final decision about who is allowed on their lease at any time.

Use of land

The terms of the leases give lessees the right to graze the land along with some permitted activities for example, exotic pest plant control, minor soil disturbances and activities within the existing area immediately surrounding dwellings (curtilage), but lessees need the consent of the CCL before carrying out various other activities. 

These 'other' activities are called discretionary pastoral activities. If lessees want to undertake work on the lease such as clearing scrub, creating tracks or cultivating the land, they require the consent of the CCL. We manage this process on the CCL’s behalf.

When considering consent applications, the CCL often has to obtain the views of third parties, such as iwi and the Department of Conservation. However, the CCL is the sole decision maker.

Leaseholders wanting to apply for consent to carry out work on their lease can find more information about this on our Pastoral activity consents page.  

Sale and transfer of pastoral leases

Pastoral leases can be sold by the current leaseholder and their ownership transferred with the consent of the CCL. If you are thinking about buying or selling a pastoral lease make sure you contact us as soon as possible so that we can help you work through the requirements.

See also: Pastoral activity consents.  

Guide for pastoral leaseholders and applicants

More information about leaseholders rights and responsibilities can be found in our Guide for pastoral leaseholders and applicants.

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