Recreational and amenity opportunities

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Recreation and amenity opportunities provided by Canterbury's water bodies are of social, cultural and economic benefit to the region.

Under the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS), goals were set to help make a difference to our environment and how natural resources are managed. 

Environment Canterbury reports on progress on behalf of CWMS partners. Note there is no consistent information source on the extent and quality of water-related recreational activities in Canterbury, with the exception of Fish & Game's angler surveys. Lacking this information, the benefits of recreation – including tourism benefits – cannot be accurately described or measured.

Here's how things are progressing against 2020 goals. View information on:

Water-based recreational opportunities

2020 goal: A positive trend in the availability and/or quality of recreational opportunities in each zone.

Has the goal been met?

Met
Partially met
Not met

Measuring trends for this goal is challenging given the diversity of options available and numerous ways people choose to enjoy Canterbury's lakes and rivers. The CWMS Regional Committee's Recreation and Amenity Working Group gathered information to better understand the availability, diversity and trends of recreation and amenity opportunities in the region. Numerous projects have been undertaken to map and improve the quality of recreational spots across Canterbury.

Highlights to date
Looking forward to 2025

Recreational water flows

2020 goal: Made progress toward achieving environmental flows.

Has the goal been met?

Met
Partially met
Not met

Environmental flows and water take limits have been set for relevant Canterbury rivers. Restrictions on the volume that can be taken from rivers, is the most significant method for maintaining instream environmental values such as natural character, recreation, cultural values and aquatic ecology. These values are given statutory backing in regional plans and consents. Challenges lie in understanding and enabling flows that support a range of recreational activities.

Highlights to date
Looking forward to 2025
  • Environment Canterbury will continue to monitor flow levels and place restrictions on water abstractions to maintain flows.

Freshwater angling

There is no 2020 goal for freshwater angling.

Highlights to date
  • Fish & Game continues to undertake projects to increase fishing opportunities.
  • Since 2018, Environment Canterbury has prioritised fish screens in its compliance programme.
  • Environment Canterbury is working with consent holders to upgrade their fish screens and/or put in place interim measures.
  • Fish & Game has developed an Adaptive Management Strategy to help salmon stocks recover.
Looking forward to 2025
  • Environment Canterbury will continue to implement work programmes to support fish screen compliance.
  • The National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA) is expected to produce the next National Angler Survey in 2021/22.

Recreational water quality

2020 goal: Of the lake and river sites used for contact recreation, an increase in the percentage that meet recreational water quality guidelines.

Has the goal been met?

Met
Partially met
Not met

Environment Canterbury’s recreational water quality monitoring programme assesses the microbial contamination of a site and grades whether it is suitable for contact recreation.

Environment Canterbury’s latest report (2019/20) on water quality for contact recreation (PDF File, 8.5MB) reported that 76% of graded freshwater sites are considered as being generally suitable for contact recreation – 100% of lake sites and 64% of river sites. Compared to the previous year's report, four freshwater sites improved a grade, while three sites decreased a grade.

The latest figures show an increase in freshwater sites suitable for contact recreation from previous monitoring results of 58% in 2015/16 and 70% in 2009/10.

Highlights to date
Looking forward to 2025
  • Environment Canterbury will continue to monitor and report on freshwater recreation sites annually. 

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