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Mataura River

The Mataura River catchment is the region’s second largest. It extends from the southern tip of Lake Wakatipu to the Toetoes Estuary, east of Invercargill. The Waikaia River is the main tributary, contributing half the flow of the catchment above its confluence with the Mataura, east of Riversdale.

The Mataura River is New Zealand's most fished brown trout river. It is a large long river with hundreds of places that provide excellent trout fishing. The most renowned feature of the Mataura is its hatches of mayfly which drive the resident brown trout into a feeding frenzy. While famous as a fly fishing river, the Mataura also offers exciting opportunities for spin fishing. The lower river provides a chance to target ‘sea-run’ trout as they move between the lower Mataura, the Toestoes estuary and the sea.

Existing land use activities and increasing agricultural intensification are key contributors to the degradation of water quality in the Mataura catchment. The majority of the Mataura catchment has been developed for agriculture which is particularly intensive in the middle and lower reaches. Significant abstractive pressures exist in the middle reaches near Riversdale, with the advent of pasture irrigation to support intensifying land use activities in the district.

Impacts on water quality, particularly below Gore, occur through various industrial and municipal water discharges and the cumulative impact of agriculture.

Environment Southland collects water quality information from 25 sites in the Mataura catchment.  

The Waimea Stream has one of the poorest water quality records of monitored Southland streams, and on occasion fish kills are reported in very dry summers. Ambient bacterial loadings are low in the upper Mataura, but increase in the middle and lower reaches. However, the Waikaia River often has high bacterial levels exceeding MfE guidelines even in low flows. Water clarity decreases markedly between the upper and lower reaches of the Mataura.

During the summer there is weekly monitoring at some sites. See the Environment Southland website for details.

Sites 22

Monitored sites in the Mataura River catchment

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No sites found.

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Scientific Indicators
Scientific data for this catchment

This dashboard shows information on the data collected by the regional councils for water quality indicators, analysed as state and trend.

The state for the catchment is represented by the median concentration for the parameter across all sites within the catchment and then compares that value to the quartiles for all monitored sites in New Zealand.

Click on the parameters state icons to compare this catchment with others in the region.

  • State

    State shows how the median of samples from this site compares to other sites

  • Trend

    Trend shows how the quality of water is changing over time. Depending on the sampling history duration, five and ten year timescales are available:

Can I trust this data?

The Cawthron Institute has worked alongside regional councils to verify the processes and methods used for data collection, laboratory analysis of samples collected and the statistical analysis and interpretation of the results presented.

If all Cawthron ticks are green, then you can trust this data. However, if one or more ticks are orange, then conclusions should be treated with some caution.

For more details on each tick, see our 'Can I Trust This Data?' Factsheet.

Can I trust the data?
Data Collection

All samples were collected using approved field protocols and have been analysed in accredited laboratories. Therefore the data shown here has been collected and analysed following best practice.


All samples were collected using approved field protocols and have been analysed in accredited laboratories.

Trend - Adjustment for flow

This data is not flow adjusted. National guidelines suggest that flow-sensitive variables are flow 'adjusted' before trend analysis. Therefore, any trends shown here may be affected by variations in flow across sampling occasions.


E. coli



Black disc





Total Nitrogen


Total Oxidised Nitrogen


Ammoniacal Nitrogen



Dissolved Reactive Phosphorus


Total Phosphorus

Download Data

.ZIP file of indicator readings for all sites in New Zealand

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