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

Hurunui Water Project

Following the expiration of the moratorium on consents in the Hurunui and Waiau catchments, the Hurunui Water Project has applied for and been granted resource consents for a revised and expanded hydro and irrigation scheme focussed on the Waitohi River.

Previous plans proposed an 85m dam on the South Branch of the Hurunui and a weir on the exit to Lake Sumner. In the face of strong opposition from kayakers and other river users the new scheme is significantly modified and the impacts on the recreational amenity of the Hurunui River are substantially reduced.


9 August 2013: ECAN Commissioners have approved the HWP resource consents for the Waitohi scheme (PDF, 6.9MB). Consent conditions require a minimum of three "no take" days each year to enable use of the Hawarden Gap or the lower river, and to provide up to another seven days per year subject to reservoir levels, and that the intake structures are designed in consultation with Whitewater NZ and Jetboating NZ, and involve certification by appropriate experts with experience in recreational boating and kayaking. River access may be enhanced.

8 September 2012: ECAN has published resource consent application for HWP Waitohi scheme.

2 February 2010: HWP has re-activated its resource consent applications for Hurunui water (Resource consent requests reactivated, David Williams, 2 February 2010)

15 October 2009: Hurunui Water Project announces consent applications will be placed on hold for a year to allow the Canterbury Water Management Strategy process to try and resolve issues surrounding the scheme. (Press, 15 October 2009).


The Hurunui Water Project (HWP, previously known as the Hurunui Community Water Development Project) 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 all sections of the Hurunui river. Up to 32cu would be removed from the Hurunui above Mandamus for irrigation.

This project has been lodged since the application by Whitewater NZ and Fish & Game for a Water Conservation Order on the Hurunui River.

In preliminary feedback on the scheme, Whitewater NZ (then NZRCA) noted:

  • The Hurunui River is one of the most utilised white water kayaking rivers in the South Island, particularly for Canterbury kayakers;
  • The river is characterised by a fairly dynamic flow, with the different flows producing substantial differences in the canoeing experience;
  • We have concern that any smoothing of the natural flow would have detrimental effects on the river ecology, especially the potential build-up of Didymo and the build-up of algae in the river bed;
  • We noted that there are multiple sections on the Hurunui River that have whitewater value.


  • Submission form (Word, 39KB) or Submission form (PDF, 85KB)
  • Background: Large Scale Irrigation Proposal by the Hurunui Water Project, August 2009, Doug Rankin
  • HWP: Appendix J: Recreation Assessment of Effects (PDF, 1.4MB), June 2009, Greenaway
  • HWP: Resource Consent Application and Assessment of Environmental Effects (PDF, 3.1MB), 17 June 2009, Sinclair Knight Merz
  • Consent Application, ECAN - search for 'Hurunui'
    • ECAN Resource consent notice to Whitewater CC (PDF, 460KB) - includes location plan, 20 July 2009
  • Robin Rutter-Baumann of WWCC, 23 July 2009, Radio NZ, audio
  • Irrigation project 'outrageous', 23 July 2009, Stuff.co.nz
  • Whitewater NZ Media Release: Hurunui Water Project will destroy natural flows (PDF, 93KB), 22 July 2009
  • Whitewater Canoe Club Press Release (PDF, 69KB)
  • NZRCA response to HWP Pre-feasibility enquiry, May 2006 (PDF, 98KB)

Submissions due 11 September.

Preview Attachment Size
ECAN_notice_to_WWCC_0965_001.pdf 460.64 KB
NZRCA_Hurunui_Water_Project_May_2006.pdf 98.1 KB
WWCC_Press_Release_20090722.pdf 69.34 KB
HWP_Application_Assessment_of_Environmental_Effects.pdf 3.12 MB
HWP_Recreation_Assessment_of_Effects.pdf 1.37 MB
Submission_form_HWP_v3_final_170809.doc 38.5 KB
Submission_form_HWP_v3_final_170809.pdf 85.39 KB
hwp-waitohi-irrigation-hydro-scheme-part-a-application-notice.pdf 1.18 MB
hwp-waitohi-irrigation-hydro-scheme-part-b28.pdf 18.37 MB
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