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Ruamāhanga River

The Ruamāhanga River is the largest river in the Wairarapa.  With headwaters in the Tararua Ranges, the Ruamāhanga River flows through the Wairarapa Valley for about 130 kilometres. It passes through several townships and extensive farmland before discharging into Lake Onoke which opens into the sea at Palliser Bay. 

The River is a popular area for a variety of recreational activities including swimming, fishing, and other water based activities which include jet boating, rafting, kayaking and canoeing.

Greater Wellington Regional Council monitors the environmental health of the river at 23 locations, and recreational water quality at 10 locations within this catchment.

Agricultural landuse dominates the catchment and is the main pressure on catchment water quality, as well as treated sewage discharges from the five main Wairarapa townships. Water quality is monitored at four locations along the Ruamāhanga River and results show a marked decline with distance down the valley.

The environmental health of the river is also monitored on many of the main tributaries, including the Kopuaranga, Waipoua, Whangaehu, Waingawa, Waiohine, Taueru, and Huangarua rivers. Generally, water quality is excellent in the western tributaries, which originate in the bushclad Tararua Range, and poorer in the eastern tributaries.

Lake Wairarapa is located within the lower Ruamāhanga catchment. The Tauherenikau and Waiorongomai rivers discharge into this lake – both of these rivers have excellent water quality.

Sites 27

Monitored sites in the Ruamāhanga River catchment

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