working together for healthy water
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for all life to thrive – healthy water is essential


Our catchment, the mighty Upper Clutha, covers a total area of 4,600 km2.

Our action plan is called the Community Catchment Plan (CCP). It’s yours and it’s mine. It’s also our shared roadmap to improve and maintain the long-term health of the wider Upper Clutha’s freshwater.

It identifies risks to the health of our waterways, gaps in our understanding and actions we need to take in order to mitigate the effects of human activity on our aquatic ecosystems.


Jobs for Nature

Strengthening our shared connections to land, water and ecology.

As part of a nationwide initiative, WAI Wānaka’s Jobs for Nature programme delivers measurable benefits for the environment on-farm alongside providing much-needed local employment.

Wānaka Water Project

60 actions were identified for healthy ecosystems and community wellbeing through the Community Catchment Plan.

The Wānaka Water Project oversees the actions, organises community fundraising for riparian planting and commissions urban stormwater research.

Science and Education

Science and learning at the heart of local action.

Safeguarding the future of our waterways requires a plan and educational resources that are supported by scientific research, monitoring and data to make evidence-based decisions.

Action Groups

Connecting landowners, local businesses and the community.

Working together to protect healthy ecosystems and community wellbeing for years to come. WAI Wānaka helped establish 6 of the 7 catchment groups and 4 small landholder groups operating in the Central Lakes District.

Who are WAI Wānaka?

WAI is the Māori word for water. It also stands for Water Action Initiative. We’re a community group set up to safeguard and improve the quality of the water in and around the broader Upper Clutha catchment.

We share knowledge about our precious alpine waterways and the real impacts of human activity on water quality. We work alongside our community to take action to mediate those impacts.


Lake Wānaka

192 km2 surface area
45 km long
277 m above sea level
Maximum depth: 311 m

Lake Hāwea

141 km2 surface area
35 km long
342 m above sea level
Maximum depth: 392 m

Clutha River / Mata Au

South Island’s longest river: 338 km
Average annual flow rate: 575 m3/sec


The more hands and minds are working together towards the same goal, the greater the outcome.

Become part of our team of amazing volunteers. Fill in our questionnaire and let us know how you would like to participate.

Want to help us take care of this special place? Every donation, big or small, helps to create positive change for our environment.

Get in touch or sign up to our newsletter to have your say and stay in the loop about upcoming events and opportunities.

Planting session at Glendhu Wetland – Photo by Dion Andrews

News & Updates

  • WAI at the WAO Summit
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  • Rural update 29 Sept 2021
    Last week we welcomed our cohort of seasonal field staff to WAI Wānaka. We’re excited to have another amazing bunch of people on the team… Read more
  • WAI Wānaka turns 5
    From three passionate part time volunteers in 2016 to a dedicated workforce of 44, a lot has changed in WAI Wānaka’s five year evolution. WAI… Read more
  • Riparian Planting in the Upper Clutha
    With winter drawing to a close, the WAI team is gearing up to start spring planting. The Upper Clutha catchment has an extensive network of… Read more

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