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.


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


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.


Join the amazing team at Te Kākano for a planting or nursery session to help with native plantings to improve water quality and build healthy ecosystems.

Help take care of this special place. Your generous gifts fund native trees, water testing, educational programmes and scientific research.

Get in touch to find out about other volunteer opportunities or upcoming community events. Sign up to our newsletter.

News & Updates

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