Wānaka Water Project

The Wānaka Water Project aims to improve the understanding of the risks to our waterways and identify the actions needed to manage them. A project designed by the community for the community supported by a range of generous funders.

In collaboration with a network of passionate individuals, regulators, scientists, and community the project has recorded many successes since it’s beginning in 2018, including but not limited to the creation of the Community Catchment Plan, over 18,000 riparian plants along more than 5,000m of waterways and 2 comprehensive applied science reports.


Community Catchment Plan

Your action plan for the Upper Clutha’s freshwater! Designed by the community for the community. It addresses current and future risks to freshwater resources in order to prevent any decline in water quality and ecosystem function.

Riparian Planting

Native plantings to restore riparian margins around the catchment, led by Te Kākano Aotearoa Trust. The goal is to plant 24,000 eco-sourced natives over 5 years. Find out more about how you can support riparian planting.

Applied Research

Applied research focussed on the impact of urban development on stormwater and drainage in to Lake Wānaka. Supported by Catchments Otago, the results of this research will help to define future management measures.

Wanaka Water Project team
Riparian planting Wanaka
Applied Research as part of the Wanaka Water Project


Click on icons on the map to see details MAP KEY -+



plants in the ground over 5 years



plants planted across 19 sites

7,216 m

of waterways protected

47,119 m2

of riparian zones planted


plants to go!


Our Current Understanding

WAI Wānaka commissioned a review of existing literature to assist with the development of the Community Catchment Plan. The literature review included: A state of the environment summary, high level policy and plan direction, risks to the catchment. The literature review is currently being updated to include the most recent science, policy and applied research findings.

Community Values and Concerns

In 2019 a survey of the Upper Clutha community’s values and concerns regarding freshwater was published. 75% of those who completed it believe that water quality in the Upper Clutha is getting worse, with the key concerns being: agricultural runoff including the use of pesticides, fertilisers and other chemicals; and issues related to population growth.

This work is made possible with the generous support of our community and partners:


News & Updates

  • Wrapping up 2022
    2022 has been a bustling year here at WAI Wānaka. Protecting our beautiful lakes and rivers would not be possible without your support. From generous donations, to… Read more
    As the urban communities of Wānaka, Hāwea, Luggate, Cardrona and Makarora continue to grow, so too does the need to look after our urban environments…. Read more
  • Do you love our alpine lakes?
    This gifting season we invite you to look after your treasured alpine lakes – Lake Wānaka and Lake Hāwea – and their surrounding waterways by supporting education and… Read more
  • WAI’s spring update
    Spring is a fresh start in nature and a time to clear out some clutter, remove weeds and plant the right trees in the right… Read more
  • A passion for galaxiids
    Ash Rabel is WAI Wānaka’s resident scientist, with a passion for galaxiids and protecting Aotearoa’s habitats on land and especially water. Ash explains how WAI… Read more
  • The more we know, the better we do!
    E mao ana ki ua, e ua ana ki mao.It is fine until it rains, it rains until it’s fine. Welcome to WAI Wānaka’s winter update! It’s… Read more
  • Science Blog – future research
    Kia ora kotou, Time for a further update on research in the Upper Clutha. Previous science blogs have covered historic and current research in our… Read more
  • Better together
    By working together, we empower communities to understand their water, their environment, and their impact. The first official Matariki public holiday has brought forward many beautiful… Read more

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