This article examines the implications for natural resource management of the “new governance”, a collaborative, participatory and deliberative approach to solving public and environmental problems that has important implications for the way we understand and apply law and regulation. Evaluating two distinct natural resource management programs developed under the Resource Management Act 1991 and the Local Government Act 2002, the article provides one of the first comparative and empirical examinations of the performance of new governance in New Zealand. Our analysis of these programs yields insights for new governance jurisprudence including an evaluation of the “default hybridity” relationship between traditional law and new governance. It also enables recommendations to be made as to how to increase the success of new governance collaborations in practice. These have considerable implications for the law and regulation of natural resource management in New Zealand.