Our purpose is to preserve New Zealand's whitewater resources and enhance opportunities to enjoy them safely.


Whitewater NZ aims to preserve New Zealand's rivers and lakes for all kayakers, by undertaking the following tasks:

  • Maintain national river database
  • Monitor threats to resources
  • Provide information on river conservation
  • Work with government agencies, iwi and other river users
  • Initiate or support legal action


RMA and Freshwater reform | Hurunui Water Project | Hurunui WCO | Mokihinui Dam | Kawarau WCO (Nevis) | Matakitaki/Glenroy HEP | Regional Plans | NPS Freshwater | NPS Electricity | Energy Strategy | Central Plains Water (CPW) | Didymo | Mokau Dam | Kaituna Dam | Wairau canal | Waitaki | Pukaki and Tekapo consents | Gowan Scheme | Orari Dam | Waikato | Kawarau jetboat | Kawarau river works | Tongariro Power Development Scheme | Rangitata Water Conservation Order | Rangitata dam proposals | Clarence | Arnold

Current Issues

RMA and Freshwater reform

The National government has proposed reforms to the RMA and WCOs that would favour irrigation development over recreational amenity. Refer to the background on proposed reforms and Whitewater NZ's submission.

Hurunui Water Project

The Hurunui Water Project (HWP) proposes a weir at the outlet of Lake Sumner, and a 75m high dam on the South Branch of the Hurunui. This would affect flows on sections of the Hurunui river such as Maori Gully and Hawarden Gap (July 2009). Submissions on the resource consent application are due 11 September 2009.

Hurunui Water Conservation Order

Whitewater NZ has made a t application with Fish and Game for a Water Conservation Order for the Hurunui River (Sep 2008). Our intention is to protect the outstanding recreational amenity from damming or extraction. If you agree the Hurunui is deserving of protection for future generations, please read the background information and make a submission before 15 December 2008.

Mokihinui Dam

Meridian Energy has lodged resource consent applications to construct a $250 million 65-85MW dam on the wild and scenic Mokihinui River. Submissions on the resource consent are due 23 April. Robin Rutter-Baumann compiled Whitewater NZ's submission opposing a dam on the Mokihinui River.
Issue: Mokihinui dam

Kawarau WCO (Nevis)

The iconic Nevis river is the subject of plans by Pioneer Generation to build a 40MW hydro dam. In opposition to this Fish & Game have applied for a variation to the Kawarau Water Conservation Order (WCO) seeking to impose a prohibition on damming the river, along with conditions on minimum flows. Whitewater NZ has submitted in support of the variation to ensure recognition and protection of the outstanding recreational values of the Nevis River. These values are well-described in Ben Willems' early descent as "one of a kind in New Zealand - an unforgettable experience".

Matakitaki/Glenroy HEP

Network Tasman is proposing hydro dams on the Matakitaki river and the Glenroy river near Murchison. The company has purchased land in the Matakitaki valley and is conducting feasibility studies. An initial round of consulation has been announced (June 2009).

Regional Plans

Whitewater NZ has submitted on various regional plans: Submission (August 2007) on Horizons' One Plan.

NPS Freshwater

The proposed National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management fails to safeguard recreational interests. Duncan Catanach compiled the Whitewater NZ's submission (Jan 2009).

NPS Electricity

Whitewater NZ made a Further Submission on the Proposed National Policy Statement for Renewable Electricity Generation. The current proposal would allow the national energy interest to override regionally significant wilderness and recreation values. It fails to account for the fact that rivers are not renewable (Dec 2008).

Energy Strategy

Duncan Catanach compiled Whitewater NZ's submission on the Draft New Zealand Energy Strategy to 2050 (March 2007).

Central Plains Water

The Canterbury Central Plains Water plans to extract up to 40cu from both the Waimakariri and Rakaia Rivers in order to irrigate 60,000ha of farmland. A 12km2 storage lake will be created. The consents are for 35 years. The Assessment of Environmental Effects (Kowai intake) (PDF, 4.1Mb) makes little mention of kayaking, saying only Reducing the mainstream riffle depth is possibly of greater concern to activities that require longer lengths of river, such as the jet boaters and canoeists/kayakers, who require a minimum water depth of 0.2 and 0.1 metres respectively. The effect of the reduced downstream quantity of water is assessed as having a low potential to affect both instream and land-based recreation. (6.4.7, p6-9). BTW, 0.1m = 10cm!

Significantly, the scheme has changed from 'harvest at high flows' to 'run of the river'. The scheme would mean the Waimak would run at minimum flow for much of the year. Refer , especially Is Central Plains Water trustworthy? for additional information. Submissions due August 18 with hearings planned for later this year.

Refer to the Save the Waimak campaign for more details.

Mokau dam

King Country Energy has applied for a resource consent to dam the Mokau River in Taranaki. The proposal involves a 44m earth dam 4.3km below Wairere Falls that would inundate the existing rapids (including Little Huka and Corkscrew Rapid) and destroy the existing recreational amenity. Submissions closed 18 April. Duncan Catanach compiled Whitewater NZ's submission opposing the dam. TVNZ interviewed Duncan Catanach and Nick Collins for the news on 18 April.

Kaituna dam

Bay of Plenty Electricity to proposes to build a 7m, 15-20MW dam that would destroy the Awesome Gorge and Gnarly Gorge sections of the Kaituna river near Rotorua. Overview of Kaituna Dam project, December 2005. See also www.kaituna.com. 15 Dec 2006: DOC has granted a concession to BOPE in principle. Whitewater NZ has submitted opposing the concession (Mar 2007).

Wairau canal

TrustPower is about to launch a $240m hydro power scheme in the Wairau valley, that would divert 50% of the Wairau river through six powerstations on a 46km canal beside the river. The section affected is a braided, low-gradient reach from the Branch river to Renwick.


Whitewater NZ's concerns arising from the Draft Waitaki Catchment Water Allocation Regional Plan have been compiled by Duncan Catanach to form Whitewater NZ's Submission re Waitaki Allocation Plan (April 2005).

Pukaki and Tekapo resource consents

Duncan Catanach has compiled submissions opposing the Aoraki Water Trust and Opihi River Development Company Ltd. resource consent applications affecting the Tekapo River and the Pukaki Farming Company Ltd. resource consent application affecting the Pukaki.

Gowan Scheme

The Majac trust aims to put a hydro scheme on the Gowan River, a tributary of the Buller. A Special Tribunal has been established to hear the application to modify the Buller Water Conservation Order.

Orari Dam

Proposals to dam Orari river, and Orari River Protection Group paddling survey.


Whitewater NZ is seeking mitigation for the adverse effects of Mighty River Power's dams on the Upper Waikato.

Kawarau jetboat

Whitewater NZ has opposed an application to extend a tourist jetboat service through Smith's Falls citing conservation and safety concerns; also read the press release (PDF, 75k).

Kawarau river works

The Queenstown District Council wants to remove a buttress above Smith's Falls rapid on the Dogleg section of the Kawarau River, in order to reduce the level of Lake Wakatipu during extreme flood events. has made a submission opposing the consent application

Tongariro Power Development Scheme

has appealed against the resource consents granted to Genesis for the TPD, and is seeking better mitigation of the impacts of this significant series of dams (28 September 2001).

Read Wade Bishop's backgrounder to the Tongariro Power Development Scheme and Whitewater NZ's submission on the Tongariro Power Development scheme, which affects the Whangaehu, Moawhango, Upper Tongariro, Lower Tongariro, Whakapapa and Whanganui rivers.

Rangitata Water Conservation Order

In December 1999, the New Zealand Fish and Game Council and the Central South Island Fish and Game Council lodged an application for a Water Conservation Order (PDF, 33k) in respect to the Rangitata River. The Minister for the Environment, Marion Hobbs, appointed a three-person tribunal to report on the Water Conservation Order. The tribunal members include senior lecturer in resource management issues (and chair) Dr Jonet Ward, Rural Futures Trust manager Claire Mulcock and Dr Murray Parsons, consultant. The tribunal is calling for public submissions, on the prescribed form (PDF, 9k), due by 28 February 2001. Whitewater NZ has made a submission regarding the Rangitata WCO.

In November 2001, presented evidence to the Tribunal: Highlights, Doug Rankin evidence and Jonathan Hunt evidence.

The Tribunal returned a report recommending a Water Conservation Order (WCO) in October 2002. The Environment Court heard further evidence in 2003 and 2004 and released its final decision recommending the WCO on 22 September 2005. The Environment Minister signed-off the Water Conservation Order on 23 June 2006.

Rangitata dam proposals

At least three irrigation schemes are planning to extra water from the Rangitata river. Ruapuna Irrigation Limited have applied for resource consents to extract water from the Rangitata river near the current irrigation intake. Another scheme suggested by the Mid Canterbury Irrigation Enhancement Society proposes spending $278 million on a "huge" dam at the top of the Rangitata gorge. Read Whitewater NZ's submission against the Ruapuna Irrigation Limited scheme and Rangitata South Irrigation scheme. Whitewater NZ has recently made a submission regarding the Rangitata Diversion Race resource consent application to take up to 30.7 cumecs from the Rangitata.

Also, the Whitewater Canoe Club has made submissions against the Ruapuna Irrigation Ltd. scheme and the Rangitata South Irrigation Ltd. scheme.


A resource consent application by Trustpower has been publicly notified by the West Coast Regional Council and Greymouth District Council. Details of the scheme are at . In summary, the scheme would divert up to 100 cumecs (2/3 average flow) from the Arnold mainstem near the existing dam, through a canal, returning the water approx. 12km downstream. This would dewater the usual run leaving a minimum residual flow of 12 cumecs.

"[Given] the disparity between the proposed residual flow regime and the number of occasions that minimum flows meet the kayakers' requirements, it is likely that their activities will be affected as the flows will typically be too shallow to allow for current usage." "As a consequence there will be a significant adverse effect requiring mitigation." (p21-22, Appendix N (PDF, 3Mb)). Trustpower have proposed a 'world-class kayak course' as part of the plan, "but it's not confirmed at this stage" (Press, 22 November 2006). Submissions close 19 January 2007.

Glenn Murdoch is coordinating kayaker's responses in Hydro scheme on the Arnold River (2000). Andy England explains why the Arnold River is a popular resource.

Previous issues

Clarence quarry

Another conservation issue is Tranz Rail's plan to quarry 1.9 million cubic metres of fill from the bed of the Lower Clarence river. Whitewater NZ has written submissions to the Canterbury Regional Council outlining our concerns regarding the proposal and undertaken successful negotiations with Tranz Rail to mitigate the effects.
Clarence consent update (Maree Baker)
Example Resource Consent submission regarding the Clarence River (Jonathan Hunt)
From source to sea - Rafting the Clarence (Kate Batten)
Quarrying the Clarence (Paul Macey)
A Clarence River trip (Jim Hutton)


The Whitewater NZ Conservation Strategy seeks to provide guidance on how Whitewater NZ will respond in order to protect the recreational amenity that kayaker's value.

Hugh Canard explains the reasons for ing the Living Rivers Coalition (December 2004).

The case for keeping a logbook of one's kayaking experiences, Jonathan Hunt, January 2004.
A warning of increasing competition for water, Hugh Canard, November 2002.
The President's word on Whio, Robin Rutter-Baumann and Let's all help the fabulous Blue Duck (whio), Ian Gill (DoC), January 2002.
Buller Water Conservation Order, 2001, August 2001, Doug Rankin.
Whitewater NZ submission on "Making Every Drop Count: The National Agenda for Sustainable Water Management - Action Plan", 24 February 2000, Maree Baker and Sarah McRae.
Submission on Resource Management Amendment Act 1999, 28 September 1999, Maree Baker.
How to make a submission, 1998 & 1997, Maree Baker
Amenity Values, 1998, Andy Hollings.
Water Conservation Orders, 1998, Geoff Price.

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