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Last Thursday, as part of Te Wiki Tūao ā-Motu/ National Volunteer Week, we teamed up with Love Wānaka and Wastebusters for an amazing ‘Cleaning up the Cardrona’ event.

Over 50 passionate volunteers joined us to clean up a section of the Ōrau / Cardrona River, just below the bridge off of Ballantyne Road. This part of the river is home to fish such as toitoi (common bully) and brown trout, and flows directly into the mighty Mata-au / Clutha river. It is also an area that has long been overlooked and in need of some TLC.

In just under two hours, a diverse group of volunteers – from families to retirees to businesses to students, collected over 1 TONNE (1070kgs to be exact!) of rubbish from along the river.

1 tonne of rubbish collected from cardrona river, wanaka's fresh water
“I came to the clean-up today because I live nearby and we spend a lot of time down here with our kids and dog. We wanted to come help tidy it up.” – Scotty (volunteer).
locals help tidy up community in wanaka

You may be wondering, how did we manage to transport over one tonne of rubbish from the river to the landfill?

This was made possible thanks to the generous support of local businesses Wanaka Civil and Interlink Ltd., who provided their work trailers and manpower, collecting large items and taking everything up the road for proper disposal.

This effort wasn’t just about cleaning up, it was about connecting as a community, getting outdoors and taking action for our waterways.

wai wanaka, a non profit organisation, sets out to better the health of freshwater in the upper clutha catchment
“I’m all about our water in the world, and so anyway I can help preserve our precious resource, I’m there!” – local volunteer

As with all of our beach clean-ups, a litter audit was conducted and the rubbish within a designated area was sorted and recorded into the national Litter Intelligence database. By doing so, we can track the types and quantity of rubbish we are finding in key locations over time.

After the clean-up we gathered for a celebratory cup of tea (cups provided by BeChunky) and some kai (thank you Fedeli for the delicious scones). We also brought along a ‘vision board’ for volunteers to share their ideas for the future of this area. Ideas ranged from an art mural under the bridge to new recreational trails to planting natives above / along the river.

ideas from locals about keeping the cardrona river tidy

We’d like to give a huge thank you to all of the volunteers that gave their time to participate in this river clean-up, as well as our event partners: Love Wānaka and Wānaka Wastebusters, and event sponsors: Wanaka Civil, Interlink ltd. and Mitre 10 Mega Wānaka. We’ll be back to this location along the Ōrau / Cardrona River in six months to continue our efforts (this time, going upstream of the bridge!).

wai wanaka logo
love wanaka - community fund logo
wanaka civil logo
interlink solutions logo
mitre 10 mega wanaka logo

In the meantime, we’re organising monthly clean-ups in key areas around our lakes and rivers. Our next clean-up is scheduled for Wednesday, 17 July at the Outlet (Lake Wānaka) from 1pm – 3pm. Head to our events page to learn more.

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