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, including but not limited to a Community Catchment Plan, over 15,500 riparian plants along 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.


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



plants in the ground over 5 years



plants planted across 17 sites

5,004 m

of waterways protected

36,288 m3

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

  • Science Blog
    This blog is the first of three that will be published over the next few weeks, highlighting key research that WAI has contracted and research conducted by other agencies from across Aotearoa.
  • WAI Wānaka 2021
    2021 has been another year of many challenges for communities around the globe. We would like to take a moment and say THANK YOU to… Read more
  • Give a little, receive a lot
    During these warmer summer months, there are so many ways to enjoy our lakes and rivers. But can you imagine if they were too polluted to be safe?
  • This is WAI
    This month, we are excited to share our first booklet that explains what WAI does, some local stories and upcoming events with you.
  • WAI at the WAO Summit
    We would like to invite you to join us for this year’s Wao Summit Food & Fibre events, 26th – 31st October. The Wao Summit is designed… 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
  • Lockdown learning & biodiversity
    Another four days and we’ll drop an alert level everywhere south of Auckland. We hope you are all coping ok and are gentle on yourselves… Read more

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