The Flaxbourne catchment is located in the driest area of Marlborough with annual rainfall typically less than 800mm. The geology of the catchment is complex with greywacke dominating much of the catchment, limestone beds occur in the lower reaches. Flow is perennial in the upper catchment and lower reaches and intermittent in the middle reaches. In recent years the demand for irrigated water has increased as viticulture has expanded into the area. Over 70% of the catchment is in pastoral farming with most of the remainder in scrub. Less than 10% of the catchment is covered in indigenous vegetation.