Paying for the ORC: a snapshot of proposed changes for your address

Apr 16, 2024

Flood protection and drainage programmes, boosting public transport options across Otago and environmental project funding are some of the main factors driving proposed rates increases and decreases at the Otago Regional Council.

The proposed average rates impact for households would see possible increases of 18.6 percent for 2024 to 202525, 11.2 percent for 2025 to 2026 and 9.4 percent for 2026 to 2027.

ORC chair Gretchen Robertson acknowledges ratepayers have a strong interest in the types of services the council undertakes and what is affordable.  

“There are options up for discussion and we’re urging people in the community to make submissions now as the work programmes being discussed will have effects on them for the next 10 years ahead,” she says in a statement today.

“With 10 rating changes being proposed that will likely affect some component of rating in your area, we need to know now whether you agree or disagree with these proposals." 

Snapshot - rates changes as they affect you 

Queenstown and district 

  • Queenstown Lakes ratepayers would also pay a new 10 percent to 20 percent region-wide rate for the region’s flood and drainage needs
  • $194 million proposed to be spent on Queenstown public transport in the next 10 years
  • This includes more frequent public transport service, electrifying the fleet and an on-demand service for the likes of Quail Rise and Queenstown Hill, plus retaining the ferry service
  • A total rates rise from this year to next of $125 on a property with a $1.2-million CV


  • A new targeted rate in the Queenstown Lakes District including Wānaka, Hawea and Albert Town helping to pay for Queenstown transport services
  • A separate environmental fund helping to maintain environmental gains of recent years and pay for projects such as pest management and water-care projects
  • New catchment action plans and rate, a new biodiversity strategy and an indigenous monitoring programme
  • A Wānaka public transport trial

Central Otago 

  • A targeted rate for Central Otago river management, such as willow removal and river maintenance, resulting in an increase of 40 percent in the amount collected from Central Otago for this activity
  • Total rates rise from this year to next in Central Otago of $72.70 on a property with a CV of $700,000
  • A new air pollution strategy
  • An Alexandra, Clyde, Cromwell to Queenstown public transport service trial

The ORC has enabled a rates estimator on its website, to allow households and businesses to gauge their predicted rates bills. Keen to find out the impact for your address? Go to 

Depending on property values, $1.2 million homes in Queenstown and Wānaka could see total rates rises of respectively $125 to $618 and $232 to $584 in 2024 to 2025, while a $700,000 Central Otago home would rise by $72 to $322.

Public Transport 

A new 20 percent general rate funding allocation for public transport is being proposed, which will expand the targeted rated area to include the entire Queenstown Lakes District, as well as Dunedin.

Targeted transport rates in the Whakatipu would rise by 81.2 percent, while in Dunedin, by 14.6 percent.

The ORC is proposing to change how it rates for Queenstown public transport, with 80 percent funded by Queenstown Lakes District ratepayers, including those in Albert Town, Hāwea and Wānaka, through a fixed uniform rate. The other 20 percent is proposed to come from an Otago-wide rate. 

The council’s consultation document says this would better reflect the wider benefits public transport offers the region, including improved connectivity, reduced congestion and supporting emission reduction targets. 

The ORC plans to invest almost $194 million in Queenstown public transport over the next decade, plus an additional $67 million between 2026 and 2034.

The money will be spent on upgrading the bus fleet to electric and higher-capacity, starting earlier and finishing later, plus having a 10-year timetable target of a bus every 15 minutes. 

Ferry services will be retained, and there will be a target for on-demand services to hard-to-reach places like Queenstown Hill and Quail Rise. 

ORC’s transport manager Lorraine Cheyne says public transport benefits more than just users.  

The more people who use public transport in and around Queenstown and Arrowtown the easier it is for businesses, including those which involve Queenstown airport’s freight and travel, all serving the wider area to provide their goods and services, she says.

“We’re keen to hear what the wider community thinks of this proposal as part of our LTP consultation." 

Regional bus trails 

The ORC is also proposing to investigate trialling public transport in several new areas, including in and around Wānaka, and between Alexandra, Clyde, Cromwell and Queenstown. 

The Long Term Plan provides the public the opportunity to provide feedback on their willingness to support a public transport investment, and, subject to the response the council gets, the ORC will then work with and seek feedback from the local council and communities on the design of any new service.

Design considerations will include the route, the location of stops, frequency of services and running times over the day and throughout the week. 

Flood protection, drainage, and river management 

The ORC estimates $315 million needs to be spent on flood and drainage protection over the next 30 years, including $67 million during the first 10 years of the Long Term Plan. Areas proposed to receive this investment include Alexandra, the Leith (North Dunedin), Lower, East and West Taieri, Tokomairiro, lower Clutha and lower Waitaki River areas. 

For many areas, there will be changes to flood protection, drainage, and river management rates, which will see the current targeted rates decline by more than $500 across around 2,100 properties in most flood and drainage-defined areas.

ORC proposes to implement a new region-wide rate of 20 percent of the amount required for flood protection and 10 percent for all drainage schemes. 

Proposed targeted rates for river management will see decreases in the Whakatipu (-28.2 percent), Wānaka (-19.2 percent), and Dunedin (-33.9 percent), but Central Otago, with large waterways, would increase 40.2 percent and Waitaki, 57.5 percent. 

Environmental projects 

With much of central government’s funding coming to an end, the ORC is proposing there be a targeted rate across Otago’s five districts to establish a dedicated and new large-scale environmental fund, of a minimum $500,000. This would be over and above the council’s grants scheme such as the Envirofund and could involve partnering with philanthropic funders.  

If it was from a targeted rate, the funds collected in each district would be spent there, or if it was an Otago-wide general rate it would go to projects of the greatest need and benefit across all Otago.

Large-scale projects might include pest management and water quality projects, aimed at maintaining the environment gains made when the funding was provided by the government. 

Public feedback sought

Submissions can delivered online (, by post or by hand (ORC, Alta House, Level 1, Terrace Junction, 1092 Frankton Road, Queenstown) up until Sunday, April 28.   

Copies of the LTP are available directly from ORC offices and public libraries, while a consultation document can be found online here.

Want to speak to a councillor? 

  • Queenstown, Wednesday, April 17, between 4pm and 7pm, Mezzanine Meeting Room, Queenstown Events Centre, Frankton
  • Wānaka, Thursday, April 18, between 4pm and 7pm, Lake Wānaka Centre's Armstrong Room, 89 Ardmore Street
  • Online, Friday, April 19, between 11am and 12pm, join here

Or reach your local Dunstan councillors on:

[email protected] 
[email protected] 
[email protected] 

Read more:

Queenstown set to pay 35 percent more in rates than Dunedin

ORC public transport and rates proposal in the spotlight



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