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Rangitata River

The Rangitata River is located in the Environment Canterbury Ashburton water management zone. The total size of the river catchment is 1,773 km2. The river is formed by the confluence of the Clyde and Havelock rivers, which rise in the Southern Alps. The river passes through the Rangitata Gorge in the Alpine foothills, and flows southeast for 121 kilometres, entering Canterbury Bight 64 kilometres northeast of Timaru. 

The Maori name "Rangitata" (Rakitata) has been variously translated as "day of lowering clouds", "close sky", and "the side of the sky. 

Before the Rangitata crosses the plains, part of it is diverted to the Rangitata Diversion Race (RDR) for irrigation and hydroelectric generation with eventual discharge into the Rakaia River. Towards its mouth, the river splits into two large braids, forming a large delta island called Rangitata Island. This island is crossed by State Highway 1 and the Main South Line railway between Ealing and Rangitata. The Rangitata River has a celebrated Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) fishery, it is also highly valued for it's recreational (e.g. jet boating and kayaking), aesthetic and ecological values. On 23 December 1999 Fish and Game New Zealand lodged an application for a water conservation order on the Rangitata River. In June 2006, the water conservation order was gazetted.

Nine sites on the Rangitata and tributary streams are monitored in the Environment Canterbury state of environment monitoring programme. Sampling site locations are representative of a range of land uses and catchment land cover in the Rangitata River catchment. Water quality data indicates that the river demonstrates low nutrient concentrations in the upper catchment that become increasingly impacted from point and non-point source contaminants further downstream.

Sites 9

Monitored sites in the Rangitata River catchment

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