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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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