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Hokitika River

This North Westland river drains a 20-mile length of the main alpine divide and is approximately 40 miles long. Before leaving the Southern Alps the Hokitika River is joined from the east by the Mungo River, of similar size, and then from the south by the Whitcombe River, which is actually larger than the Hokitika itself. 

The flow of the Hokitika River is relatively high (mean flow of 102 cubic metres per second) proportional to the size of its catchment. This is unsurprising given that the highest annual rainfall on record in New Zealand comes from its headwaters.

The Hokitika River and its eastern tributary, the Kokatahi River have formed the Kokatahi-Kowhitirangi alluvial plain, one of the larger and more fertile plains of Westland. This area is one of the traditional dairy farming areas of the West Coast, and currently supports a large number of farms.

There are several small creeks on this plain that are monitored by the Council. Intrinsically high water quality characteristics, due to their supply of spring water, helps buffer them to a degree from the effects of intensive agriculture. However, their water quality is not as high as the Hokitika River itself.

Nitrate levels in Westland’s spring fed streams can be some of the highest on the West Coast, similar to the levels in the aquifers surrounding them.

Sites 4

Monitored sites in the Hokitika River catchment

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