So, where can I subdivide? (August 2022)

Recently we have seen the central government wield the stick in terms of urban subdivision. For the first time ever, we have seen the Government step over the local authorities and rule that intensive development of three stories and three units per section are allowed in some cities. Will this Government intervention happen in rural areas? I can’t see it happening for a long time.  However, there is new resource management legislation coming. Watch this space!

Currently, local councils make their own rural subdivision rules considering national policy statements and regional council rules. There is also a political element, whereby councillors often try and keep historical expectations alive for their constituents. So, when they review the rules they may retain existing provisions for some property.

In the Waikato, Coromandel and Bay of Plenty Regions, the opportunities for subdivision are varied. Hauraki, Thames/Coromandel, Matamata/Piako, Whakatane and South Waikato are relatively allowing of subdivision in their rural zones, particularly where they don’t impact highly productive soils. Further west in both Otorohanga and Waitomo Districts subdivision development is relatively encouraged because they want to encourage development. 

However, in Waikato, Waipa and Bay of Plenty, your subdivision options are more limited, with most subdivisions being allowed in return for the protection of ecological features on the property being subdivided. Such features include wetland and native bush. Sometimes this extends to historic, cultural or landscape features.

If there is demand for lifestyle blocks or smaller farms in your area your first step might be to contact your local council or look on their website. They often include a summary of what subdivision is allowed in the area. The main criteria is usually the minimum size of the new sections.  If your property fits the bill, or you have seen evidence of subdivision development in your area, the next step would be to contact a subdivision specialist to advise you on the process and potential costs to achieve your goal.

There are many controlling factors and council rules to comply with when subdividing. The most important to you as the potential seller are the safety aspects such as the entrance onto the road, stable house site and potential contamination. Other issues that the council consider include rural character, drainage for stormwater and wastewater, ecology and electricity supply. 

So, all in all, subdividing is a complex process that takes experienced people considerable time and effort to carry out. You need the patience to work through the process and come out with a section that is free of issues for both the seller, purchaser and the wider community.  That said, it can be a satisfying experience if done properly and there is demand for the new blocks.

Subdividing to create new titles is also an investment.  As we have seen over the years the council rules keep tightening and the resource management legislation continues to evolve. I am yet to see it get easier to subdivide. Every time the RMA has been amended under the pretence that it will streamline subdivision, the process has become more complex. So, even if you don’t need the extra titles now, why not start the process and ‘bank’ them? It is almost guaranteed that you won’t be able to do in the future what you can now.

If you are contemplating any subdivision and want to make the most of your land, call a specialist subdivision company for advice that you can count on. We are happy to give you the time to discuss the full potential of your land so feel free to give us a call and discuss your situation.


Trig points and topographical surveying
theodolite - traditional land surveying equipment
Surveying Services Subdivision Planning Team Vehicle
Mt Maunganui Land Surveying