Rakaia River Canterbury

5th March 2023

Who is responsible for managing the Rakaia River Canterbury (NWCO)

June Update - FR, the NZ Salmon Anglers and NZFFA have joined forces to continue this process. The next step is mediation in mid June. We'll be attending as interested party's.


December Update - Dismay after Ecan (Regional Council) withdraws it's application without notification, effectively blindsiding the environmental groups involved. A summary here. Means the declarations will need to be refiled, which is now taking place. We continue to watch these developments to ensure the correct questions are being asked, and to hold those responsible for the degradation of the Rakaia to account.


Protected by a National Conservation Order (NWCO) for:

(a) an outstanding natural characteristic in the form of a braided river:

(b) outstanding wildlife habitat above and below the Rakaia River Gorge, outstanding fisheries, and outstanding recreational, angling, and jet boating features.

Some of these features have declined, or disappeared almost completely.

- The river, once the jewel in the crown amongst salmon anglers, has since the mid 1990s seen a large decline in the numbers of salmon returning to the river every year

- Sea-run Brown Trout which used to be prolific in the lower river have all but disappeared

- Without the Sea-run Brown Trout, the upper river has seen a decline in the number and size of it's brown trout as the searuners are no longer there to migrate up to restock the upper river.

- One of the main drivers of the ecology of the lower river is the native and endangered Stokells Smelt; which used to arrive into the lower river in vast numbers, has declined dramatically, these smelt provided a source of food not only for the Sea-run trout, but also the native fish and birds.

The vast upper Rakaia River

I've highlighted these area's of concern because there's a very interesting court case that's set to define exactly who is or is not responsible for looking after our special rivers. There's more info here

Angling groups are organising themselves to have their say on this important issue, stay tuned, more to come


Steve Gerard
Trustee Future Rivers Trust
Mid Canterbury