Love Our Lakes

If you are heading to the Waitaki and Mackenzie lakes over summer to enjoy a classic Kiwi holiday experience then check you’re doing all you can to respect the environment during your trip.

Simple steps can reduce your impact - always use the public toilets (poo in the loo), get rid of any rubbish responsibly, wash clothes or dishes away from the lake and take measures not to spread aquatic weeds (Check, Clean Dry).

Following these steps will reduce your impact on the water quality of our lakes and protect the native plants, animals and birds that live there as well.

About Love Our Lakes

Love Our Lakes is a promotional campaign to encourage recreational lake users to respect this special environment.

It is run by the Upper Waitaki Water Zone Committee who are local people focused on what people can do to protect the waterways.

Everyone can help look after the lakes and protect the environment we all love and respect.

Simple steps to Love Our Lakes

Reduce and bin your rubbish

If you’re planning a trip to the lakes, make sure you’re responsible with your rubbish and use the bins provided (or take it with you). Rubbish in the waterways can impact both the water quality and the wildlife that lives there.

A good idea is to pack a waste-free picnic to reduce food and drink rubbish when visiting your favourite lakeside spot.

It may take a little more planning but a waste-free picnic - using reusable containers, a water bottle, flask and plates – really cuts down on the rubbish that’s le­­ft when you pack up. The difference is surprising, a couple of apple cores versus a bag of rubbish.

Ideas for a waste-free picnic:

  • Use a picnic set rather than disposable plates and cutlery.
  • Fruit is a great low-waste option.
  • Aim to pack sandwiches rather than buying prepackaged items.
  • Use beeswax wraps or reusable containers for storing food.
  • Remember to pack a reusable drink bottle and a flask for hot drinks.
  • Don’t forget some yummy home-baking brought in a cake tin or container.
  • Pack a face cloth for wiping hands and faces rather than paper serviettes or baby wipes.

Make sure you either take home any waste or dispose of it in provided bins.

Poo in the loo

When visiting our lakes, it’s important to use the public toilets provided to protect the waterways from pollution. Bacteria and other pathogens from poo can make swimmers very sick and affect mahinga kai (resource gathering) and the māuri (life force) of the water. It only takes a small amount of poo to spark a health warning, which will affect thousands of holiday-makers.

Boaties and kayakers are encouraged to plan regular toilet stops when they are out on the lake - some bays where boaties may pull up to can be quite sensitive to waste material.

If you’re looking after babies or toddlers that aren’t toilet trained, make sure they wear a swim nappy.

Dog poo can also be harmful so scoop up any dog poop and dispose of it in the rubbish.

If you’re travelling in a campervan, remember improper disposal of toilet waste can contaminate water, damage the environment and is culturally offensive. Use disposal facilities for any campervan sewage waste.

Wash clothes and dishes away from the water

Our lakes and rivers are not a drain – so make sure you do your washing in a tub and dispose of all soapy water properly, preferably down a dedicated camp bathroom or kitchen drain.

Soaps and detergents can harm the tiny wildlife that lives in our waterways so it’s important not to tip any leftover washing water into the lake or river.

If you have no access to camping facilities: When cleaning and washing in open waterways, take the water and wash far away from the water source. Drain the used water into the soil to allow it to be filtered.

Check, Clean, Dry

Some of the aquatic pest species present in New Zealand exist within our region, but many of our lakes and rivers remain pest-free. You can help keep it this way.

Prevent aquatic weed invasions:

  • Check boats, trailers and anything else that was in the water, including your dog’s paws if your dog is in the water with you, for any plant material and remove it. Leave debris at the site or, if you find any later, treat and dispose of it in the rubbish. Do not wash down drains.
  • Clean all equipment (eg, nets, machinery, footwear and clothing) thoroughly with an appropriate decontamination solution before putting it in any new waterway.
  • Dry - if you can't clean your gear or animals, restrict use to a single waterway or dry completely to the touch inside and out, and leave to dry for at least another 48 hours.

Find out more on the Check, Clean, Dry webpage.

Water quality at swimming sites

We regularly monitor water quality at popular swimming spots around Canterbury over the summer.

Can I Swim Here? Results are available at Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA).