Crown pastoral land

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

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

The CCL delegates some decision making responsibilities to LINZ 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 also have 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.

The terms of the leases give lessees the right to graze the land but, as the landowner, the CCL has the final say on any other uses of the land. If lessees want to undertake other work on this land, such as clearing scrub, creating tracks or cultivating the land, they require the consent of the CCL, and 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 Discretionary pastoral activities page.  

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.

We also manage tenure reviews on behalf of the CCL. Tenure review ended on 18 May 2022 when the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Act came into effect, except for those reviews at the substantive proposal put stage.  Tenure review was a voluntary process that gave lessees an opportunity to buy land capable of economic use, while land with conservation values was protected and restored to full Crown ownership as conservation land.

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