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Ōrāri River

The Ōrāri River is situated in the Ōrāri-Ōpihi-Pareora Zone. The river rises to the northwest of the Four Peaks Range, initially flowing north and then east to circumnavigate the range before flowing southwest across the Canterbury Plains. The river is mostly fed by precipitation and in-flowing spring-fed tributaries. The towns of Geraldine and Orari are both located close to its banks. The Ōrāri River reaches the Canterbury coastline eight kilometres east of Temuka.

The Orari River catchment has a temperate climate, characterised by warm, dry summers and cool winters. The upper catchment is a mixture of exotic vegetation and grassland/tussock with low intensity landuse activities. The lower plains are under moderate-to-high landuse pressures from such activities as pastoral beef and sheep, dairying and cropping.

Several sites are monitored on the Orari River and tributary streams as part of Environment Canterbury’s state of environment monitoring programme. The sampling site locations are representative of hill-fed, lower spring-fed plain river types.

Water quality data indicates increased demands for water and the effects of increasing agricultural activities are putting pressure on the water quality and aquatic ecosystem values of the River. The best water quality is observed in the upper reaches of the Orari catchment where little degradation and anthropogenic activity occurs. Water quality of the upper catchment is characterised by low levels of dissolved nutrients and bacterial concentrations. The poorest water quality is typically found closest to the coast where the river and tributary streams have been under pressure from increasing landuse intensification, both rural and urban. As the river flows down the plains towards the coast, dissolved nutrient levels and bacterial concentrations increase.

Sites 12

Monitored sites in the Ōrāri River catchment

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