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Wellington Region

Groundwater Zone: Wellington Harbour and Hutt Valley

The Wellington Harbour and Hutt Valley Groundwater Zone lies in the southwestern part of the Wellington region and occupies an area of 1,183 square kilometres (14 percent of the region). It lies beneath Wellington, Upper Hutt and Lower Hutt cities, as well as the Hutt River that rises in the Tararua Range.

This zone comprises three water resource units in the southwestern part of the region that are neighbours but hydrologically discrete from one another.

The first area comprises the collective catchment of streams that drain the hills around Wellington city into the harbour as well as the open sea. There are no significant groundwater resources associated with these streams and demand for water is low. Consents for abstractions are limited to minor takes for golf courses and short term abstractions for large earth works projects (e.g. windfarm) and allocation is managed on a case by case basis. The greatest pressures on streams in this zone relate to runoff from the urban and low intensity farming areas as well as the heavy modification of stream channels in the city suburbs.

On the opposite side of Wellington Harbour are the Wainuiomata and Orongorongo river catchments. These neighbouring catchments drain the Rimutaka and Orongorongo ranges, respectively in a north-south direction and discharge to the Cook Strait. Both are subject to significant river abstractions in their headwaters for municipal supply. The Wainuiomata River also has a modest groundwater resource in its lower reaches associated with alluvial gravels and sands in the valley floor. The Orongorongo River catchment lies entirely within Department of Conservation (DoC) estate and is therefore not subject to any further abstraction pressure beyond the municipal take.

The most prominent water resource in this zone is the Hutt River and its associated aquifer system underlying the Hutt Valley. The Hutt River is the third largest in the region (after the Ruamāhanga and Ōtaki rivers) and is subject to the largest run-of-river individual abstraction. Once the Hutt River emerges onto the valley floor in Upper Hutt it begins to interact with groundwater. The Hutt aquifer comprises shallow alluvial gravels in direct connection with the river as well as deeper semi-confined water bearing layers. The most productive deep aquifer unit is the Waiwhetu Aquifer (30-100 metres) and this unit is tapped by a bore field in Lower Hutt to supplement the municipal supply. The Waiwhetu Aquifer is recharged primarily by the Hutt River and heavy, persistent pumping of the groundwater can induce significant river losses. A further risk with groundwater abstraction is the onset of saltwater intrusion.

Management of water resources in the Hutt Valley is focussed on treating surface and groundwater as a single, connected system.  While the zone is split into two groundwater sub-zones (Upper and Lower Hutt) to help manage allocation limits, the linkage between these zones and the Hutt River is explicitly considered at the whole catchment scale. 

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.

    Values for water availability have not yet been provided. Greater Wellington Regional Council is in the process (as at June 2015) of notifying a new Regional Plan that will contain proposed allocation limits.  When this Plan is notified the proposed limits will be used to update the empty fields.

  • 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.

    Values for water availability have not yet been provided. Greater Wellington Regional Council is in the process (as at June 2015) of notifying a new Regional Plan that will contain proposed allocation limits.  When this Plan is notified the proposed limits will be used to update the empty fields.

  • 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


Monitored sites in this Zone

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