Wild Rivers: The Waitaha

Famed for its irridescent glacial water, the Waitaha River is under threat from a hydro-electric plan that could see the loss of its natural value.

Ivory Glacier feeds an alpine lake, and water tumbles majestically down Stag Creek to the Upper Waitaha.

Loved by all who visit, the Waitaha has its upper reaches in the snowy and ice covered Southern Alps.

A rugged and remote West Coast river, the Waitaha, is a wilderness and biodiversity treasure.

The river broadens at times to provide important habitat for blue duck/whio, including at the important location of Kiwi Flat. It then pinches and goes through the Morgan Gorge (one of the most spectacular gorges in the country) before emerging to take a short meander to the West Coast’s Tasman Sea.

Lying almost wholly within public conservation land, the voice of the Waitaha has called trampers and kayakers for decades. It is a truly wild place.

How is the Waitaha under threat?

Westpower has applied to construct and operate a hydro scheme on the Waitaha River. This could reduce water flow through the Morgan Gorge and have devastating impact on the geckos, birds, and native vegetation that call this habitat home. 

The Department of Conservation has notified its intent to grant a concession for the hydro scheme and is now calling for submissions. You can help protect this wild, West Coast river by making a submission before 14 November.