Lakebeds and riverbeds

Many New Zealand lakebeds and riverbeds are Crown property and are managed by Toitū Te Whenua on behalf of the Commissioner of Crown Lands.

The Commissioner of Crown Lands (CCL) is an independent statutory officer who reports to the Minister for Land Information. On the Commissioner’s behalf, we manage most major lakes in the South Island and along the Waikato River, as well as the beds of navigable rivers. ‘Navigability’ generally refers to rivers with a history of navigation along their course. 

If you want to undertake an activity involving a lake or river bed, you may need the permission of the CCL. Some of the activities that require consent include building a jetty or boat mooring, anchoring swimming pontoons, or extracting gravel.

If you’re unsure whether you need consent, or want to confirm whether a particular lake or riverbed is managed by Toitū Te Whenua, contact us at

Read more about using Crown property

As well as assessing applications to use lake and river beds, we are responsible for controlling weeds growing in these waterways, and have an extensive biosecurity programme targeting lagarosiphon and hornwort in particular.

Read more about our biosecurity control work