Keep stock out of the tide


To help protect our important coastal marine areas, Northland rules require farmers to keep their stock out of the tide. 

There are different ways to exclude your stock, and the council’s land management advisers can help you determine the best option for your situation.


Cows in coastal area.

The problem

When stock get into tidal areas they can pollute the water and cause real damage to important ecological environments.

Under regional council rules, farmers must keep their stock out of Northland’s ‘coastal marine area’.  This is the area below the mean high-water spring tide mark – often recognised by the highest line of seaweed and driftwood on the beach – plus certain areas of tidal streams and rivers.

The stock exclusion rule aims to protect the coastal marine area’s ecological health and water quality from the adverse effects of browsing, pugging and animal effluent.

Stock browsing and pugging

  • Damages native plants, saltmarsh and other estuarine and harbour edge vegetation.

  • Crushes crabs and shellfish and disturbs whitebait breeding grounds.

  • Damages eel grass beds, which are habitat and breeding grounds for native fish.

  • Can help spread weeds.

  • Damages dunes and dune plants.


Pugging on the coastal margin.Pugging on the coastal margin.

Animal waste (dung and urine)

  • Contains viruses and bacteria which build up in filter-feeding shellfish and can endanger local food gatherers and recreational users.

  • Can impact on the aquaculture industry, which relies on clean water. 

 Sheep in the tide.


Options for excluding stock

In many areas, there are natural obstacles to stop stock from getting into coastal marine areas. 

If there’s no natural obstacle you will need to put up some form of fencing or other barrier.  Keeping stock out of tidal areas will not only produce environmental benefits, but can also make stock management easier.

The best form of fencing will be dependent upon the site and the stock involved. In many situations a single hot wire, which is put in place when the stock are in the affected paddocks, can be a cost effective and efficient system.

Other alternatives include electric fences consisting of one or more wires or post and batten fences.

Our council advisers can discuss fencing options with you.


How we can help


Our land management staff can offer technical advice to all landowners.  If a fence is needed, the type of fencing required will depend on factors such as terrain, stock type, permanence of fence, and building and material costs – we can help you weigh up the options. 

Help with Landcare and CoastCare groups

Groups can be far more effective than individuals when it comes to sustainable land management and coast protection.  Our land management staff can help you:

  • Get in contact with a group in your area

  • Find out how to set up your own group

  • Apply for funding

  • Identify relevant issues in your area.

Stock in the tide.

Further information

Get in touch with Northland Regional Council’s land management team on freephone 0800 002 004 or email