What defines hill and high country?

What defines hill and high country?

The most commonly used NZ land classification system is the ‘Land Use Capability Class’ or LUC Class. It is an assessment of the land’s capability for use, taking into account both its physical limitations and its versatility for sustained production.

There are eight LUC classes, with versatility of use decreasing, from Class 1 to 8. As a general rule, as the LUC Class increases, topographical variation increases, annual dry matter production decreases, potential deer stocking rate decreases and paddock size increases to accommodate optimum herd sizes.  

Classes 5 to 7 are not suitable for arable cropping but are suitable for pastoral grazing, tree crop or production forestry use (Fig 1). Class 8 land is unsuitable for grazing or production forestry, and is best managed for catchment protection and/or biodiversity conservation. Our extensive deer farming systems are generally in the lowland hill country of the North and South Islands (LUC Class 5-6) and sub-alpine high-country of the South Island (LUC Class 6-7).

 NZ map of hill and high country

Figure 1: Hill and High-Country zones in New Zealand, as represented by LUC Classes 5-7. Information source: New Zealand Land Resource Inventory database (Landcare Research Ltd.)