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Clutha River

The Clutha River/MataAu catchment lies across the breadth of Otago with a catchment area of 21,022 km2. It is the largest catchment (area)and river (flow volume) in New Zealand.

The Clutha River/Mata-Au has a mean annual flow of 575 m3/s of which approximately 75% is derived from the catchments which feed lakes Hawea, Wanaka and Wakatipu. 

The catchment areas (km2) of the Clutha River/Mata-Au tributaries (from upstream to downstream by confluence) are as follows: Makarora River (745km2), Matukituki River (801km2), Hawea River (1473km2), Cardrona River (347km2), Luggate Creek (123km2), Lindis River (1039km2), Dart River (631km2), Rees River (405km2), Shotover River (1091km2), Mill Creek (14km2), Fraser River (327km2), Manuherikia River (3026km2), Dunstan Creek (297km2), Teviot River (332km2), Tuapeka River (249km2), Pomahaka River (2060km2), Heriot Burn (143km2), Waipahi River (339km2), Waiwera River (208km2), Waitahuna River (406km2). The lakes in the catchment include Lake Wanaka, Lake Hawea, Lake Dunstan, Lake Wakatipu, Lake Johnson, Lake Hayes, Lake Roxburgh, Lake Onslow, Lake Tuakitoto

The mainstem of the Clutha River runs generally north-south, and is about 250 km from the headwaters to the sea. The headwaters of the catchment are predominantly in rugged, steep terrain with the highest point, Mt. Aspiring, reaching 3027m. Numerous headwater streams such as the Dart River (sampled at Glenorchy Road) and Matukituki River(sampled at West Wanaka) arise along the eastern boundary of the Southern Alps and are generated from permanent glaciers.

The upper Clutha River is joined by many tributaries including the Hawea River (sampled at Camphill Road), the Cardrona River (sampled at Mt Barker), Luggate Creek (sampled at SH8), the Lindis River (sampled at Lindis Peak and Ardgour Road), the Kawarau River and the Manuherikia River (sampled at Galloway, Ophir and Dunstan Creek).

In contrast, the mid-sections of the catchment consist of relatively broad valleys dissected by rolling, block mountains ranging from 1000 to 1600 m. The mid Clutha river is joined by two major tributaries, the Fraser River (sampled at Marshall Road) and Teviot River (sampled at Roxburgh).

The lower catchment is dominated by alluvial plains and lowlands, it is joined by the Pomahaka River (the main stem sampled at Glenken and Burkes Ford) and Pomahaka tributaries (sampled at Waipahi River at Cairns Peak, Waipahi River at Waipahi and the Heriot Burn), the Waitahuna River (sampled atTweeds Bridge) and the Waiwera River (sampled 1km above Clutha).

Approximately 24 natural and artificial lakes occur within the catchment including Lakes Wanaka (sampled at outlet), Wakatipu (sampled at outlet), Dunstan (sampled at Dead Mans point), Hawea (sampled below dam), Hayes (sampled at Bendemeer Bay and Milll Creek) and Johnson (sampled at outlet). Of the larger lakes, Wanaka and Wakatipu are unimpounded and Hawea, Dunstan, and Roxburgh are dammed. Other significant artificially controlled storage reservoirs include the Fraser Dam on the Fraser River, Lake Onslow on the upper Teviot River and Falls Dam, Manorburn Reservoir and Poolburn Dam in the Manuherikia catchment. Lake Tuakitoto is located in the lower Clutha catchment.

During the summer there is weekly monitoring at some sites. See the Otago Regional Council website for details.

Sites 13

Monitored sites in the Clutha River catchment

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