Hurunui River

Hurunui River

Hurunui River
A mountainbiker crossing the Hurunui River upstream of Lake Sumner.
Origin Southern Alps
Mouth Pacific Ocean
Basin countries New Zealand
Mouth elevation sea level
Basin area 2,670 km2

The Hurunui River is the fourth largest of the four principal rivers in north Canterbury, New Zealand, with a catchment area of 2,670 square kilometres.[1] The river flows from the eastern side of the Southern Alps, to the Pacific Ocean.

Some of the tributaries include the Jollie Brook, the Glenrae River and the Mandamus River. The north branch of the river flows through Lake Sumner. A hot pool has been constructed at the base of a small waterfall on a side stream of the river.


The river has class II and III rapids and is popular for kayaking.[2] The best whitewater is considered to be below the confluence of the north and south branches of the river in Maori Gully and in the Harwarden Gorge.[3]

Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) were introduced from California in the 1900s for game fishing.[4]

Water conservation order

On 30 August 2007, the New Zealand Fish and Game Council and the New Zealand Recreational Canoeing Association (now known as Whitewater NZ) lodged an application with the Ministry for the Environment for a Water Conservation Order to protect the Hurunui River.[5]

On 14 August 2009, the Special Tribunal considering the application recommended to the Minister that a conservation order be granted for the North Branch of the Hurunui River but not the South Branch.[6] On 2 September, Whitewater NZ lodged an appeal of the Tribunal's decision with the Environment Court in order to include the South Branch of the Hurunui River.[7]

Hurunui Water Project

The Hurunui Water Project has applied to Environment Canterbury, the regional council responsible for administering the river, for resource consents to dam the river and to take water for irrigation. The proposed scheme involves a weir that will raise the level of Lake Sumner, a dam and lake on the south branch of the river and an intake on the main stem of the river.[8]

In October 2009, the Hurunui Water Project said it would delay the processing of its applications for resource consents for up to a year so that the Canterbury Water Management Strategy could address the issue of water storage.[9] A march planned in Christchurch as a protest to the scheme still went ahead as scheduled two days after the announcement. As well as hundreds of protest marchers,[10] kayakers and fishers travelled down the Avon River.[11] Sam Mahon, a Canterbury based artist concerned about water pollution, made a bust of Environment Minister Nick Smith out of dairy-cow dung in order to publicise the campaign to stop the Hurunui River from being dammed for irrigation.[12]

In February 2010 the Hurunui Water Project announced that it would reactivate the resource consent process.[13] On 16 November 2010, the Hurunui Water Project lodged a High Court appeal of Environment Canterbury's decision to make the damming of the Hurunui River a non-complying activity in the Canterbury Natural Resources Regional Plan.[14]

In September 2012 the public notification of resource consent recommenced. The scope includes the construction of four dams on the Waitohi river, extraction of up to 49.2 m^3/s of water from the main stem of the Hurunui river, extraction of up to 42.4 m^3/s from the Waitohi River, run-of-river hydro-power generation, and storage of 6.5 million m^3 of water in other dams on the plains. By comparison the existing flow of the Hurunui river is 53 m^3/s (mean) and low-flow of 16.8 m^3/. Submissions close 5 November 2012 at,CRC120695,CRC120691,CRC120696,CRC120692,CRC120694,CRC122547,CRC120675,CRC130467HurunuiWaterProjectLimited.aspx.

See also


  1. ^ Robert Logan, Waimakariri. The story of Canterbury's "river of cold rushing water". ISBN 0-473-00520-4, Robert Logan, Christchurch, 1987, page 6.
  2. ^ Whitewater NZ website, retrieved 23 July 2009.
  3. ^ Egarr, Graeme (1988). Whitewater: River Running in New Zealand. p. 208.  
  4. ^ McDowall, R. M. (1990) New Zealand freshwater fishes: a natural history and guide. Heinemann-Reed, Auckland, 553 p.
  5. ^ Protection sought for Hurunui River New Zealand Fish and Game Council press release, 30 August 2007, retrieved 1 October 2007.
  6. ^ Report of Special Tribunal, Ministry for the Environment website, 2009-08-14, retrieved 2009-10-16. Or download from Whitewater NZ website, Or download from NZ Open Government Online Groups.
  7. ^ Appeal re Hurunui WCO, Whitewater NZ website, 2009-09-02, retrieved 2009-10-16.
  8. ^ Hurunui Water Project, Environment Canterbury website, 2009-08-13, retrieved 2009-10-16.
  9. ^ Marc Greenhill, Hurunui scheme on hold for up to year, The Press ( Media Ltd), 2009-10-15, retrieved 2009-10-16. Archived at WebCite
  10. ^ TV ONE NEWS (2009-10-16). "Hundreds protest Hurunui dam project". Television New Zealand. Retrieved 2009-10-17. 
  11. ^ Williams, David (2009-10-17). "Protesters make waves over plan". The Press. Retrieved 2009-10-16. 
  12. ^ Jeff Hampton, Artist protests damage to environment with Nick Smith dung sculpture, TV3 News, 2009-10-29, retrieved 2009-10-30. Archived at WebCite.
  13. ^ Williams, David (2010-02-01). "Resource consent requests reactivated". The Press. Retrieved 1 February 2010. 
  14. ^ Duncan Cotterill (2010-11-16). "Notice of Appeal under S 66 of the Environment Canterbury (Temporary Commissioners and Improved Water Management) Act 2010". Hurunui Water Project Limited. Retrieved 2010-11-20. 

External links

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

  • - fishing information
  • [1] -Consent application
  • [2] - Canterbury Water Management Strategy Preliminary Strategic Assessment - Project 1: Integrated Hurunui-Waiau