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

6,784 m

of waterways protected

42,293 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

  • 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
  • WAI Wānaka news
    Welcome to the latest WAI Wānaka newsletter! Find out what’s been happening, learn about upcoming events and how you can get involved. We are also looking… Read more
  • Rural update May 2022
    Last week, Ash was at the top of the Cardrona Valley installing a temporary fish passage barrier with DOC to help protect our endangered native… Read more
  • Fostering behaviours of belonging
    WAI Wānaka’s relationship with schools is flourishing. More tamariki and rangatahi are getting involved in environmental mahi, and more local schools want to work with WAI. We need your help to make it happen.
  • Science Blog – current research
    This is WAI Wānaka’s second science blog post. Find out about some recent research that has been happening within our Alpine Lakes. This list is by no extent exhaustive, but highlights some key bits of work occurring.
  • New research commissioned
    We are excited to announce a project with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) to start a short-term study of currents in Lake Wānaka. This is the first research of its type on the deep-water lakes in our area.

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