Twizel River restoration recommended

The restoration of a section of Twizel River close to the town has been identified as a key priority for the Upper Waitaki Water Zone Committee, which is now investigating next steps to get a plan in place.     

Committee chair Simon Cameron said the group has been discussing the improvement of the waterway for some months and has also carried out a site visit to better understand the issues. 

“This section of the river is looking rather unloved, with few native plants, lots of pest weeds, old willows and little recreational amenity.

“This area could be a real asset to our local community and our visitors if we work together and give it a bit of TLC. Additional native planting could also be a boost for native fish species and mahinga kai gathering.

“It’s still very early days but we are very enthusiastic about improving this area of the waterway.”

Twizel River is home to both native and introduced fish, plants and birds, and flows into Lake Poaka and its wetlands.  Over summer, the water quality is monitored weekly for swimming and recreation.

Finding out who looks after what

A key step for the Committee is to untangle the complexities of land ownership and responsibilities in the adjacent area. At its last meeting, the committee organised a discussion with the Department of Conservation (DOC), Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) and the zone committee representatives of the local community, rūnanga and councils.

Cameron said DOC offered several possible solutions to make things easier going forward.

“A community agreement to oversee the area has been suggested or they could transfer their conservation land in the area to Mackenzie District Council. LINZ was able to update us that they aren’t responsible for land in this particular area.

“While no decisions have been made, the zone committee was pleased with the initial discussion and intends to continue engaging with these organisations and the community to ensure this part of the river is restored.”

Other priorities in the zone

Restoring Twizel River near the township is just one of the goals identified in the Upper Waitaki Water Zone Committee’s action plan for the next few years. Other areas of focus include improving the health of key waterways for customary use and enhancement of mahinga kai opportunities, as well as supporting community catchment groups to reduce nutrient losses.

Environment Canterbury is scheduled to carry out works to reduce active erosion to riverbanks on the Twizel River later this year as part of flood prevention measures. This work is separate from plans for restoration but will be considered in planning.

The Upper Waitaki Water Zone Committee is a collaborative group made up of community members, rūnanga representatives and councils that recommend actions and tactics relating to water management. 

Come to the next meeting

There will be an update on Twizel River restoration at the next zone committee meeting on Friday 20 August, 9.30am at the MacKenzie Country Inn, Twizel.