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Tukituki River

The Tukituki catchment is one of the larger catchments in Hawke’s Bay covering approx 2500 km². The Tukituki River flows north from southern central Hawke’s Bay 80 km into the Pacific Ocean near Haumoana south of Napier. The mean annual flow is 43.848 cumecs at Red Bridge in the lower end of the catchment.

The largest tributary of the Tukituki is the Waipawa, draining the Ruahine Ranges north of the Tukituki; also in the north the Mangaonuku flows into the Tukituki draining the Wakarara Ranges. Joining the Tukituki from the south are the Tukipo, Makaretu, Porangahau and Mangatarata while the Maharakeke drains the Turiri Range. These tributaries join the Tukituki after flowing across the Ruataniwha plains, the central part of the catchment.
The upper catchment of the Tukituki is dominated by greywacke. From the foothills of the Ruahines towards the lower catchment, the Tukituki flows mainly through sandstone and mudstone, but with some areas of limestone in the central catchment area. The soils of the Ruataniwha Plains are a diverse patchwork of 29 different soils ranging from heavy clays to gravels, from shallow to deep, and from waterlogged to excessively drained.

The headwaters and upper catchment in the Ruahine ranges are in native forest, and in native shrub and tussock above the tree line. The rest of the catchment has some areas of exotic forestry, hill country sheep and beef farming, and on the Ruataniwha plains the traditional pastoral agriculture is giving way to widespread intensive dairy farming, viticulture, horticulture, and cropping. On the eastern edge of the Ruataniwha Plains the river flows past two urban centres, Waipukurau and Waipawa. The discharge from the municipal sewage treatment plant discharges into the Tukituki and Waipawa Rivers. Initiatives are underway, with both the Regional Council and CHB District Council to develop land based treatment and disposal.

In the lower end of the catchment there is more viticulture and horticulture, with a larger number of small farm blocks and vineyards, and a small coastal settlement Haumoana at the river mouth. Substantial intensification of agricultural sector has lead to a significant increase in irrigation demand.

The Tukituki catchment supports a wide range of fish species, including many native fish. The threatened longfin eel and the koaro (which is rare in the Hawke’s Bay region) can be found in the Tukituki River. Several species of bullies are present in the catchment - the common bully, crans bully, giant bully, redfinned bully, upland bully and the bluegilled bully. Other native fish are the patiki (black flounder), shortfin eel, smelt, torrentfish, and galaxids like the dwarf galaxid and inanga, plus the koura, New Zealand’s native freshwater crayfish. Marine fish such as the grey mullet and yelloweye mullet are present in the catchment. There are significant populations of brown and rainbow trout, and the spawn in a number of tributaries, and trout populations in the catchment are self sustaining.

Sites 13

Monitored sites in the Tukituki River catchment

...retrieving sites.

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