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Marlborough region

Groundwater Zone: Wairau

The Wairau Aquifer is the predominant groundwater system underlying the Wairau Plain. It is arguably the Plain’s most valuable natural resource and is often taken for granted as a limitless supply of water. It is used for vineyards, intensive farming, stock water and municipal supplies for Blenheim, Renwick and Woodbourne. 

The aquifer gravels allow for a strong water flow and are mainly recharged by the Wairau River water and some rainfall.

The aquifer is overallocated on paper but there are few environmental problems except in extremely dry seasons when demand is high and recharge may be low.  Vineyards are the main land use and the area is managed to maintain recharge rates and provide sufficient flow of groundwater all the way to Cloudy Bay.

Consented use for the combined Wairau Aquifer is 5.3 m3/sec compared to the Plan limit of 4 m3/sec and the estimated safe yield of 2-3 m3/sec depending on seasonal recharge. Vineyards are the main land use and most water leaves the Wairau River channel from the reach below the Waihopai River confluence to about Selmes Road in Rapaura.  

The recent introduction of water meters for all permit-holders will give precise information on how much water is being taken from the Wairau River and Aquifer. 

Water Use
Groundwater in this zone

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


Groundwater available: {{waterSource.availableToAllocate}} Irrigation
Town supply
  • Groundwater in this zone
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    Groundwater in this zone

    Accurately estimating the total amount of water available in a groundwater management zone is not currently possible. Regional Councils are working with the Ministry for the Environment on the best way to calculate this figure. We will include these figures on LAWA when they become available. In the meantime, for more information about a particular groundwater management zone, contact your regional council.

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

    Groundwater available to consent

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    Consented water in this groundwater 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 groundwater 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 groundwater zone

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    Consented water in this zone

    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

    It excludes stock water as the taking of stock water in Marlborough is a permitted activity and a resource consent is not required or issued for this activity.

    The town supply activity total includes council operated schemes in both urban and rural settings as well as private communal rural schemes.


Monitored sites in this Zone

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