Cardrona River Catchment

Be part of the discussion about the future of the Cardrona River.


A new approach to managing the Cardrona

Freshwater Management Units (FMUs) have been set for Otago, some of which are further divided into rohe (sub areas). Each FMU or rohe community needs to set agreed shared values, objectives and limits for their waterways. This is a requirement of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management so that waterway management is decided locally, rather than with a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

The Cardrona catchment forms part of the Dunstan Rohe and is going to go through this process first. This is because of the work already done with this community on values and objectives as part of the process to set minimum flows for the Cardrona River. This work will now fold in to the rohe plan.

Alongside this, ORC is reviewing its water plan. The FMU and rohe plans will each form a chapter of the new water plan. It is important that as many people as possible take part in the discussion about their river catchment so that decisions reflect the needs of the whole community.

As part of the Water Plan review, we came back to the Cardrona catchment community in 2019 to find out if the values previously identified were still relevant, and whether any community members had new values to add. Read the results of this consultation here.


Cardrona River meeting 2021

Thanks to everyone who came along to the public meetings we held on 18 March about how we propose to manage the flow of freshwater in the Cardrona River catchment.

You can view the meeting presentation here.

The preferred option seeks to provide for the needs and aspirations of the community while taking an important first step towards meeting ORC’s obligations under the government’s new National Policy Statement for Freshwater.

Under the National Policy Statement for Freshwater, ORC must manage water via areas called Freshwater Management Units (FMUs). FMUs need to be areas that the council considers appropriate for managing water.

Otago has five draft FMUs which are North Otago FMU, Dunedin Coast FMU, Catlins FMU, Taieri FMU and the Clutha Mata-au FMU. The Clutha Mata-au FMU is further divided into five smaller areas called “rohe” (Maori for “area”) due to size. The rohe are: Upper Lakes Rohe, Dunstan Rohe, Manuherekia Rohe, Roxburgh Rohe and Lower Clutha Rohe as shown in the map below.

The preferred option for managing water quantity outlined at the meetings will go on to and be part of the Dunstan Rohe chapter of the new Land and Water Regional Plan for Otago. You will be able to have your say on this in 2023 by making a submission when the new plan is notified.

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Background technical reports:

Economic Impact flow management - Cardrona

Cardrona scenarios Habitat availability

Cultural Value Report Arrow and Cardrona

Modelled effects of transfering surface water takes to Groundwater

NIWA Cardrona flow report

Groundwater Model Report 



The Otago Regional Council is in the process of developing a plan change to the Regional Plan: Water for Otago (Water Plan) that seeks to provide for the integrated management of the water resources of the Cardrona River and the Wanaka Basin Cardrona Gravel Aquifer. More specifically, this plan change seeks to set in the Water Plan:

  • Freshwater objectives for the Cardrona catchment and Wanaka Basin;
  • Minimum flows and allocation limits for the Cardrona River and Cardrona Alluvial Ribbon Aquifer;
  • A maximum allocation limit for the Wanaka Basin Cardrona Gravel Aquifer;
  • Additional provisions that seek to provide for the sustainable management of the freshwater resources of the Cardrona River, the Wanaka Basin Cardrona Gravel Aquifer and its connected water resources. 

Since 2010, Council has hosted five community workshops in the Cardrona catchment to discuss the policy framework for managing surface water and groundwater in Otago and share scientific information about the Cardrona River and the Wanaka Basin Cardrona Gravel Aquifer.

At the last public workshop in May 2019 community members and other stakeholders were invited to provide ORC with feedback on:

  • important values and uses that are supported the Cardrona River and the Wanaka Basin Cardrona Gravel Aquifer; and
  • Desired future outcomes for for these water bodies.
  • ORC is now collecting further information that will assist with getting a better understanding of the potential impacts of various management options on water users in the Cardrona Valley and on the Wanaka Flats

The feedback received and new information collected will be used in the further development of an integrated management regime that best suits the needs and values of the local and wider community. 

ORC will go back to the Cardrona catchment community before a plan change is notified, with the next community consultation round likely to occur later in 2019.

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