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Rotorua Geothermal Regional Plan

The Operative Rotorua Geothermal Regional Plan (1.3 MB, pdf) promotes the integrated and sustainable management of the Rotorua geothermal resource. The Plan's aim is to achieve the purpose by ensuring that the Rotorua geothermal resource retains its values and potentials, while:

  • protecting geothermal surface features
  • protecting tikanga Maori
  • identifying and, as practicable, enhancing available geothermal resource
  • providing for the allocation of that resource for present and future efficient use
  • managing and controlling all adverse effects on the field
  • providing for efficient cost effective administration.

Statutory Acknowledgements

A compendium document is available Ngā Whakaaetanga-ā-Ture ki Te Taiao ā Toi (Statutory Acknowledgements in the Bay of Plenty) to the operative Bay of Plenty Regional Policy Statement and regional plans is available. Check out the Statutory Acknowledgements webpage for more information.

Plan information

The Plan manages the resources of the Rotorua geothermal field. The field underlies most of Rotorua City.  The plan covers all geothermal water and geothermal energy taken, used or discharged on, over or into the extent of the geothermal field and includes geothermal water or energy conveyed outside the resistivity boundary.

Over time it has become increasingly obvious that the extraction demands being placed on the Rotorua geothermal field are having significant adverse effects on the geothermal resource, particularly on geothermal surface features and the amount of geothermal fluid in the field reservoir itself. If the extracting of the resource is not controlled to sustainable levels there is a risk that surface features will be lost.

The aim of the Rotorua geothermal plan is to ensure that the Rotorua geothermal resource retains its values and potentials, including:

  • protecting geothermal surface features
  • protecting tikanga Maori
  • identifying and, as practicable, enhancing available geothermal resource
  • providing for the allocation of available resource for present and future efficient use
  • managing and controlling all adverse effects on the field
  • providing for the efficient cost effective administration of the resource

The Rotorua geothermal resource is unique. It means many things to many people and its beginnings extend into legend.  It is home to unique plants and organisms and provides amazing spectacles from its geysers, springs and vents. It encompasses and forms the very foundation of Rotorua City, and from it have evolved many social and commercial activities.

The geothermal resource is a taonga of great significance to Te Arawa Maori people. Te Arawa have for generations regarded the geothermal resource as a gift from the Atua, and call it waiariki, water of the gods. For Te Arawa, waiariki gives them physical and spiritual comfort; it is interwoven into their culture and traditions and is a major component of their tribal identity. Te Arawa kaitiaki require that any activity that would adversely affect the mauri of their waiariki must be avoided or controlled.

The policies of the plan will assist people to realise their duties with respect to reducing any adverse effects their activities may have on the Rotorua geothermal resource. It provides the basis on which people can take and use the geothermal energy of the field in a way that will ensure that the values of the field are sustained for all, present and future, to enjoy.

The Plan is designed to:

  • Ensure that the mass abstraction level does not exceed the maximum mass extraction level set in 1992 when a sustainable balance between abstraction and the recharge of the geothermal field was observed.
  • Limit the net loss of geothermal fluid from the field by promoting reinjection, in particular through requiring bore users to reinject all of the geothermal fluid they take back into the supply aquifer.
  • Maintain the 1.5km mass abstraction exclusion zone around Pohutu Geyser.
  • Require all resource users to hold appropriate resource consents, and follow efficient resource use practices.
  • Establish an emergency procedure to limit use effects on the field should the water levels in the field drop below a specified minimum geothermal aquifer level.
  • Promote low effect non-extractive methods of resource use such as down bore heat exchangers and the use of surface outflow sources.
  • Ensure careful and continuous monitoring of the field to ensure that the balance between use and protection is achieved and sustained.

Order a copy of the Plan

Order the plan by contacting us on the details below. The Plan costs $30 (GST inclusive) and is available to view at Bay of Plenty Regional Council offices, all public libraries throughout the Bay of Plenty and service centres of Bay of Plenty's city and district councils.