Integrated Catchment Management

Upper Motueka water resources

 Research Status: Ongoing
Irrigator in Tapawera region during summer

Irrigator in Tapawera region during summer


Sustainable allocation and management of groundwater and surface water resources in the Upper Motueka Catchment is a key issue.

The Upper Motueka area (The Motueka Catchment from the Wangapeka confluence upwards) has a sizeable area of fertile alluvial river terrace land that is suitable for irrigated agriculture. There is concern that extraction of shallow groundwater for irrigation may lower groundwater levels and consequently the baseflow of rivers/streams during the summer season due to strong shallow aquifer-surface water interactions in this area. This would reduce the availability of surface water to existing users and add pressure in terms of water allocation to keep minimum baseflow requirements for the Motueka River in compliance with the requirements of the Motueka River Conservation Order.

To assist in the sustainable management of water in the Upper Motueka region this research aims to develop an understanding of:

Research Approach

There are four strands of work currently being carried out within this research area. The research also links in strongly to trout habitat work being undertaken by Roger Young and Dean Olsen at Cawthron.

Research Results

The FEFLOW model has been calibrated for steady state conditions (i.e. yearly average figures) and is currently being calibrated/validated for transient state (i.e. daily timestep).

Isotopic work shows that there is a mixing of surface and groundwater throughout the region. At the top (Motueka Gorge site) the mean residence time (MRT) of river water is approximately 1 month. Lowere down the MRT of river water is 2-4 months while a spring fed stream (at Hinetai) has a MRT of 14 months.

Results from the study are in the presentations and publications listed below.

Low flow in the Motueka River in summer Surface water pathways on normally dry Motupiko Valley bottom

Low flow in the Motueka River in summer

Surface water pathways on normally dry Motupiko Valley bottom

Recent Publications

Year Title File Size
2012 A Summary of Outcomes and selected formal publications from the Integrated Catchment Management (ICM)research programme:2000 – 2011
pdf       1.08MB
2010 Three–Dimensional Finite–Element Transient Groundwater–River Interaction Model in a Narrow Valley Aquifer System of the Upper Motueka Catchment. pdf       6.06MB
2007 Dynamic 3d finite element model of the Upper Motueka pdf       397KB
2007 Hydrological Processes in the Upper Motueka River Valley, New Zealand pdf       3.78MB
2007 Enhancing Water Use Flexibility and Security using the Motueka Catchment as a case study: Discussion Paper pdf       725KB
More publications on this topic »
All ICM Publications »

Recent Presentations

Year Title File Size
2009 Improving Water Governance –
Stakeholder Views Of Five South Island Catchment Management Processes
pdf       688KB
2006 Upper Motueka Modelling Work pdf       809KB
2005 Understanding water resources in the Motueka valley: is more science/research needed? pdf       1501KB
More presentations on this topic »
All ICM presentations »

Primary Contacts:

Image - Tim Davie Tim Davie  EmailSend email to tim.davie
Phone: 03 372 7084
Fax: +64 (0)3 365 3194
More details»
Environment Canterbury
Hydrology & modelling, surface water resource management
Image - Timothy Hong Timothy Hong  EmailSend email to t.hong
GNS Science
Groundwater modelling
Image - Mike Stewart Mike Stewart  EmailSend email to m.stewart
Phone: 04 570 4803
Fax: 04 570 4603
Groundwater studies, isotope tracing
Image - Joseph Thomas Joseph Thomas  EmailSend email to josep
Phone: 03-544 3394
Fax: 03-543 9524
Tasman DC
Water Resources
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Page last updated Monday, 17 December 2007

Related areas

Dating groundwater Mechanisms of groundwater recharge

Related Website(S)

GWP: Water forum MAF TDC – Water augmentation projects TDC Environment–Water