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Canterbury region

Surface Water Zone: Upper Waitaki Surface Water

The Upper Waitaki water management zone is the most distinctive and largest of New Zealand’s high inland basins. The Upper Waitaki zone is part of the Waitaki catchment that starts in Te Tiritiri o te Moana /Southern Alps and flows down into Te Tai o Arai Te Uru /Pacific Ocean and is part of the rohe of Kāti Huirapa who are represented by Te Rūnanga o Arowhenua, Te Rūnanga O Waihao and Te Rūnanga o Moeraki. The landscape is almost completely derived from glacial activity with features ranging from alpine ice fields and active glaciers with fresh terminal moraine and lakes, to immense valley moraines, braided river plains and extensive intact sequences of basin floor features of moraine and outwash plains. The environment is characterised by climate extremes of cold, heat, drought, frost, snow and high winds witha striking climate gradient where rainfall measured in metres about Aoraki drops to less than 400mm per annum at the head of Lake Benmore; a distance of only 80km.

Hydroelectric generation in the Upper Waitaki basin has had a significant impact on water resources. Rivers have been diverted into canals and lakes created for hydrolectric storage. Recently there has been an increased demand for surface water for irrigation. Planning for limits to that development is limited by the state of water in Lake Benmore (near the bottom of the zone).

Water Use
Surface Water in this Zone

Regional councils collect information about how much water is available and manage resource consents for those wishing to take water from rivers and streams. Use the buttons below to view information on: how much water is available, where it comes from and how its used.


Rainfall {{waterAvailable.rainfall}} Runoff to sea {{waterAvailable.runoff}} Surface Water available: {{waterSource.availableToAllocate}} Irrigation
Town supply
  • How much surface water is there in this zone?

    Rainfall and flow in this surface water zone

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    Rainfall and runoff

    Relative breakdown Source Volume
    Rainfall total:
    {{waterAvailable.rainfall }}
    rainfall Rainfall Total {{waterAvailable.rainfall}}
    Runoff total:
    {{waterAvailable.runoff }}
    runoff Runoff to sea {{waterAvailable.runoff}}

    The table above shows the average amount of rainfall the water management zone receives each year and how much of that flows out to sea. These are approximate figures only.

    This zone is all inland (hence no flow to the sea). All water flows through the Lower Waitaki management zone to the sea.

  • Water consents: How much water is consented and used?

    Surface water available to consent

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    Consented water in this surface water zone

    Use the tables below to look at how much water is available compared with how much is actually consented within this water management zone. Click the plus to expand subzones where available

    Comparing consents and use
    Amount available to consent In this surface water management zone:
    {{}} {{}}
    available to consent
    Amount consented
    measured and non measured
    Amount used (measured)
    Amount Units Consented or used as a percentage of available
    Total available to consent {{}} {{}} {{}}
    Total consented {{}} {{}} {{}} {{}}
    Total consented and measured {{}} {{}} {{}} {{}}
    Total measured amount used {{}} {{}} {{}}
    Total measured volume used {{}} {{}}

    The table above shows the amount of water that is available for use compared to the amount that has been consented. The ‘Total Consented’ and ‘Total Consented and Measured’ fields are based on percentages of the ‘Total available to Consent’ field. If this field is not populated no data will be displayed. Some consents require actual use to be monitored and this is presented as 'Total measured volume Used' where available.

  • Water consents: How is consented water used?

    Consents by use in this surface water zone

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    Consented water

    Overall annual volume for {{waterAvailable.year}}
    Relative breakdown
    Activity Percentage of total consented Total volume Number of consents
    {{item.displayText}} {{item.displayText}} - - No data available {{item.breakdownPercentage}}% {{item.totalVolume}} m3 {{item.numberOfConsents}}
    Total {{}}% {{}} m3 {{}}

    The above table shows the proportion of water consented for irrigation, industrial, stock, town supply and other. It excludes hydro electricity. In this region/management zone {{hydroUsage.totalVolume}} m3/year is consented for hydro-electricity and makes up {{hydroUsage.percentageConsented}}% of the total water volume consented for this region/management zone


Monitored sites in this Zone

...retrieving sites.

No sites found.