Media release

Demonstration of ORC's new water science boats

Tuesday 29 August 2023

The public and media are invited to a demonstration of Otago Regional Council’s new autonomous gauging boats, on the Taieri River near Outram tomorrow.

ORC’s Environmental Monitoring Manager, Eve Bruhns, says the remotely controlled Surfbee boats increase safety for staff and will save field staff time, compared with using other types of in-situ rigs for water flow gauging in rivers and streams.

“The autonomous boat allows Environmental Monitoring staff to gauge flows which are above median levels without having to use static lines, a flying fox or A-frames. It’s also a lot safer for staff as they don’t have to go into rivers when there are higher flows,” she says.

Surfbee autonomous gauging boat

The boats are easier to transport than kayaks, and after being set up are ready to be deployed immediately on arrival, which  means that multiple sites can be visited in one day, instead of just one or two, she says.

The Environmental Monitoring team has an annual budget allocated for investment in new technology which improves the quality of environmental data routinely being collected. The initial investment for a Surfbee Autonomous gauging boat is about $33,000 per unit.


What: Demonstration of ORC’s new Surfbee autonomous gauging boat

Where: Upstream from Outram bridge. From car park below bridge, follow track upstream (on the river’s true right) for about 400 metres to the gravel beach. (Map below)

When: 11am – 1pm, 30 August.