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Ashburton River/Hakatere

The Ashburton River is located in the Environment Canterbury Ashburton water management zone. It is a medium sized gravel bed braided river that flows across the Rakaia and Rangitata River fans. The river flow regime is diverse and typical of glacial fed rivers in the Canterbury region. Its main source of flow is from precipitation and snowmelt in the headwaters with the lowest flows occurring during the late summer, and the highest during springtime. 

The local climate is temperate and characterised by hot dry summers and cool winters. Average rainfall ranges from over 3000mm to 738 mm. The upper catchment is mostly characterised by alpine rock and gravel, covered in dry grassland/tussock with low intensity landuse activities. Further toward the coast, the lower plains are under moderate-to-high landuse pressures from such activities as pastoral beef and sheep, dairying, cropping, urban and industry.

Seven sites are monitored on the Ashburton River as part of Environment Canterbury’s state of environment monitoring programme. The sampling site locations are representative of a range of land uses and catchment land covered in the Ashburton Zone. The river demonstrates low nutrient concentrations in the upper catchment, then becoming increasingly impacted from point and non-point source contaminants further downstream.

Increased demand for water and the effects from increasing agricultural activities are putting pressure on the Ashburton lowland water quality and aquatic ecosystems. The best water quality is often observed in the upper reaches where there has been little degradation and anthropogenic activity. The poorest water quality is typically found at sites closest to the coast where the river has been under pressure over the years from increasing landuse intensification, degradation and urbanisation.

Sites 11

Monitored sites in the Ashburton River/Hakatere catchment

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