The Maraetotara River is a spring-fed river with its headwaters located on the Maraetotara Plateau . The river falls within the footprint of the Cape to City project which aims to restore native plant and bird life over land used predominantly for farming - http://capetocity.co.nz/.
Land use within the catchments is predominantly pastoral farming with a small coastal urban development in the lower reaches. The Maraetotara Tree Trust is restoring riparian areas upstream of the sampling site. The Maraetotara River is recognised for its value as an eel and trout fishery.