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Manawatu-Wanganui region

Surface Water Zone: Whanganui

The Whanganui River is the country’s third longest river and its longest navigable river. Beginning on the northern slopes of Mount Tongariro it flows north-west until it turns south-west at Taumarunui. It then flows down through the King Country before turning south-east and flowing past the settlements of Pipiriki and Jerusalem until it reaches the coast at Whanganui.

The Whanganui is the ancestral river to the Whanganui iwi (Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi), a confederation of three ancestral groups: Hinengākau of the upper river, Tama Ūpoko of the middle reaches and Tūpoho of the lower Whanganui. According to Māori legend, the Whanganui River was named by Hau who set off from Patea following his wife Wairaka along the coast. The first obstacle Hau met was a great river flowing westwards to the setting sun. He sat to consider the best way to cross the water and uttered these thoughts: “Too wide to swim, too deep to wade. I will wait for the tide to turn”. That was how he named the river Whanganui, which literally means the ‘big wait’. Despite many stretches of white water and more than 200 rapids, the Whanganui River has always been an important communication and transport route for both Maori and European settlers. Before Europeans arrived, the Whanganui area was one of the most densely inhabited in New Zealand and colonial settlers later used the area near the river’s mouth as a major trading post. Today, more than half the catchment is covered in native bush or forest and approximately a third of the land area is used for sheep and beef farming. The biggest urban area is the coastal town of Wanganui which has a population of about 42,500. In the upper Whanganui catchment there is no water availble due to the volume of water that is taken for the Tongariro Power Development. There are some smaller consents that were in existance at the time the allocation framework was set and they have been allowed for as part of the core allocation limits. There are some sub-zones in the Manganui o te Ao have their limits defined by the National Water Conservation Order on the river and tributaries. At the time of setting the framework insufficent information was available to set numerical core allocation limits and minimum flows for the rest of the catchment. The water allocation framework manages impacts of the allocation on water body values including consumptive uses by setting minimum flows and allocation limits for each sub-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.

  • 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

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