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Kōwhai River Catchment

The Kōwhai River is located in the Kaikōura zone. It flows south from the slopes of Manakau in the Seaward Kaikōura Range, turning southeast as it reaches its narrow coastal plain. The river flows into the ocean to the west of the Kaikōura Peninsula, three kilometres west of Kaikōura township. The river catchment has a mild maritime climate and high sunshine hours with an average annual rainfall that ranges from 1750mm in the headwaters to 844 mm by the coast. The upper catchment is mostly alpine rock and gravel with a mixture of native and exotic scrubland. Lowland areas are under land-use pressures and are a mixture of low and high-producing grassland, with dairying and beef farming being the predominant land-use activities.

The Kowhai River is included in Environment Canterbury’s state of the environment monitoring programme; the site represents a lower alpine fed river. As with many areas in New Zealand, increasing pressure is being placed on our water resources by intensifying landuse activities, increased demand for water take (e.g. for irrigation and urbanisation), particularly in lowland areas of the Kowhai catchment. The best water quality is observed in the upper reaches of the catchment where there has been less degradation and anthropogenic activity. The poorest water quality is found closer to the coast where the river is under pressure from landuse activity.

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Monitored sites in the Kōwhai River Catchment catchment

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