Gorse is a widespread and abundant weed throughout much of Southland.

What is it?

Gorse is a woody, perennial legume with spiny branches, easily recognisable by its bright yellow flowers.

What is the problem?

Gorse can dominate sites reducing the amount of grazing available to stock and inhibiting growth of desirable species. In urban areas, gorse can harbour pest animals such as rats and possums, and can easily spread to neighbouring properties.

How to control it

Gorse can be controlled via the following methods:

Control MethodExample

Mechanical and manual control


Chainsaws, brush cutters, loppers and handsaws. Mulching and root raking with a digger are options for larger stands of gorse.

Herbicide control



Biological control


Gorse soft shoot moths are an effective biocontrol method for this pest plant. The catepillars of the moth feed on new shoots, reducing the the growth rate of the bushes and subsequent flowering and seed production. Read more about biocontrol options.

For details on control methods, see our factsheets - broom and gorse in rural areas and broom and gorse in urban areas.


Gorse is a suppression plant throughout the Southland region. It is too well established to eradicate, so our aim is to prevent it spreading onto neighbouring properties.


There are separate rules for gorse in urban and rural parts of the region.

For urban areas, gorse must be destroyed completely. In rural areas, gorse must be destroyed within 10 metres of a property boundary and within 10 metres of a watercourse. Existing hedges are allowed provided they are regularly trimmed.

For a full explanation of the rules for gorse see the Regional Pest Management Strategy.


Gorse and broom growing in urban areas have been identified as a concern to the Southland community. We operate annual inspections in 23 urban areas to:

  • minimise gorse and broom in urban areas
  • reduce the medium and severe infestations over time to minor ones
  • continue to improve roadside and public land issues

The inspection programme is usually carried out from the roadside without going on to an individual's property.

  • For minor gorse and broom issues, occupiers of land may be sent a letter asking them to destroy their plants within a specified time, usually ten months.
  • For medium and severe infestations, a Notice of Direction is issued requiring action, usually within three months.

Territorial local authorities (i.e. Southland District Council, Gore District Council or Invercargill City Council) are alerted to any issues that may be present on their land, for example on road verges, and asked for these to be included into their work programmes.

In rural areas, the rules in the Regional Pest Management Strategy require that boundaries and watercourses be kept clear for a minimum of ten metres. We will respond to any enquiries or complaints we receive about gorse and broom, with priority being given to complaints received from land occupiers who are directly and adversely affected by the presence of gorse and broom at a shared boundary.

Page reviewed: 09 May 2016 10:46am