Project Title: Love Lake Wanaka



Metres Planted:
465 m

Volunteer Hours:

Location: Upper Clutha catchment

GPS Coordinates: -44.603541, 169.251968

Project Cost: NZD $60000

Cost per Metre: NZD $129

Metres to be planted: 465m

Field Partner: Otago Regional Council

Project ID: SI5

Project Description:


After the completion of this project we went back and double checked our measurements of meters planted because we felt like we planted more than we originally projected. And guess what? WE DID!! In fact we planted 1,385m across 7 different sites. Almost 3 times the amount we originally projected!! The plants are being assessed yearly and are doing well. All sites assessed have had high survival rates, which means we have had to replace very few.

None of this could have been achieved without all of the hardworking volunteers that gave up parts of their weekends to get these in the ground and the very kind donations from you all. So thank you!


The Otago region is blessed with abundant freshwater generated in the Southern Alps. It sustains the region’s recreation, tourism, agriculture and hydroelectric dams and is the source of all drinking water for the area.

The Upper Clutha Lakes Trust was formed in recognition of the shared desire by The Upper Clutha Water Group and Lake Wanaka Trust to protect our waterways for future generations. We are a group of passionate individuals and organisations working to ensure the lakes and waterways in this area are clean and healthy for generations to come. We have community-wide representation, including all of the agencies charged with looking after our water. An agreed vision enabled a successful Ministry for the Environment application to the Freshwater Improvement Fund. Our proposal relies on the support of crowd funding to plant along our waterways.

Our goal is to plant 24,000 native trees and plants along waterways in the Upper Clutha catchment by 2022. Planting native trees and plants helps stabilise the banks of waterways to reduce pollution and sediment. The trees shade the water, lowering water temperatures. They provide habitat and sustenance for native birds and fish.

This is part of a larger multi-year project supported by the Ministry for the Environment to develop a district wide plan for managing the future long-term health of these waterways.

We’re crowdfunding now so that we have the resources to get heaps of trees in the ground in the Upper Clutha in 2019. Over the coming year, we will prioritise our riparian planting projects and decide where to plant first. We will also start planning our first couple of restoration projects. We’re collecting lots of native seed so that we can grow eco-sourced seedlings in Te Kākano Aotearoa Trust’s community nursery.

Research has demonstrated that riparian planting is more beneficial with a wide margin. Therefore, with a mix of sites and situations, we’ve estimated conservatively the number of metres that we will be able to plant out with the funds.

We plan to plant at least 4,000 trees in the 2019 planting season. This will equate to approximately 465 metres along a waterway with 2 plants per square metre. That’s an approximate area of 2,325 square metres.

Many costs are embedded in the plant costs including: the plants, materials such as compost and fertiliser, preparation of the sites, and due to the unique Otago conditions, post care such as rabbit fencing, watering and releasing. 15% will go to Million Metres for their administration of the website and assistance with the fundraising.

This project is just the first stage, which will provide a framework and impetus that can be built on into the future.


The Clutha River or Mata-Au starts at Lake Wanaka and flows south across the Otago region to the Pacific Ocean south west of Dunedin.

It’s the longest river in the South Island and the second longest river in the whole country. It has the highest flow, with twice the volume of water as the Waikato. Three quarters of the Clutha’s plentiful water comes from the Upper Clutha catchment. The Upper Clutha is made up of the streams and rivers feeding into lakes Wanaka and Hawea and includes the Upper Clutha River to below the Luggate Creek.

Lake Wanaka is New Zealand’s fourth largest lake. It is fed by the Matukituki and Makarora Rivers and to a lesser extent Bullock Creek that runs through Wanaka township as well as the Minaret Burn, Albert Burn and Rumbling Burn.

The headwaters of the Matukituki and Makarora Rivers start in the Southern Alps and are primarily fed by permanent glaciers. The Matukituki flows through Mt Aspiring National Park before reaching the lake. The Makarora River starts near Haast Pass.

The healthy, pristine water that flows out of the ranges underpins the identity of the region and contributes immensely to the lifestyle enjoyed by the residents of the lake communities around Wanaka. It underpins the economy of these communities and draws visitors from around New Zealand and the world.

The native beech forests, braided rivers, wetlands and glacier-fed lakes are unique ecosystems. They are home to rare birds and fish species. These include Kea, Kakariki, Tom Tit and South Island Robin in the forests, and New Zealand shoveller, Pied Stilt, Black Gulls and Black Swans. Lake Wanaka is home to the Koaro (one of five white bait species that is ‘at risk’ for extinction), Common Bully and Long Fin Eel (Tuna). It has three introduced fish species: Chinook Salmon, Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout.


There are increasing pressures on these waterways. They include intensification in agriculture and horticulture, rapid urban development and a growing population, along with increased visitors and tourism.

Agriculture is an economic driver around the region and has intensified over the last 40 years.

There are approximately 4,000 residences in Wanaka and there is consent for 3,000 more. This development will increase run-off and grow the stormwater footprint of the town.

Tourism and visitor numbers to the area continue to grow. This benefits the economy, but it also means that more people are interacting with local waterways and it is difficult for waste disposal services to keep up with the growth.

This growth and development is beginning to show some impacts. Lake Wanaka already has three introduced “pests” (Didymo, Lake Snow and Lagarosiphon) and we don’t want any more! Lake snow is an invasive algae that fouls fishing lines and clogs water filters. It is becoming more prevalent in Lake Wanaka each summer. Its cause is unknown, however the organism has probably been imported through tourism or agri-tourism.


Every business, resident and visitor to Wanaka and the Upper Clutha Catchment benefits from our freshwater lakes and waterways.

It will take all of us to help take care of this special place.

Your support of this fundraiser will help to protect the small streams and tributaries and provide native habitat for our native birds and insects. This will help ensure our rivers and lakes are healthy, enriching our lives for years to come.

We will provide our donors with reports on our progress. And we’d love to have you at a planting day or at our regular volunteer sessions at the Te Kākano nursery.


There are many individuals, organisations and government agencies working together on this.

Upper Clutha Lakes Trust – Is a community body focused on the protection, preservation and restoration of the Upper Clutha waterways. We use science to help individuals, groups and commercial entities understand the changes in water quality over time. Through projects, we create opportunities for water users and the community to help solve water problems together.

Otago Regional Council – is responsible for managing Otago’s land, air and water resources on behalf of the community. ORC is the agency holding the contract with the Ministry for the Environment for the Freshwater Improvement Fund (FIF) project, on behalf of the Upper Clutha Water Group.

Catchments Otago, Otago University – aims to help protect threatened landscapes and support equitable and appropriate land and water management in Otago. Catchments Otago will run the Applied Research component of the FIF project.

Te Kākano Aotearoa Trust – The trust is a community-based native plant nursery. It specialises in propagating plants of Upper Clutha origin for local habitat restoration. Te Kākano works with local community groups, schools, organisations and businesses in the effort to promote hands-on community land care.

Queenstown Lakes District Council – makes decisions alongside and on behalf of the people living in this district. In relation to this project, it manages the sewerage, water and stormwater infrastructure, and many of the parks and reserves around water, as well as the harbour master.

Photo Credit

The Love Lake Wanaka project listing photo on the projects pagethe backdrop for this page, and photos 2/10 and 5/10 in the album below are kindly supplied under copyright by Aspiring Environmental.

Other photos have been kindly supplied by Lake Wanaka Tourism, Wanaka Photography, Te Kākano Aotearoa Trust and Discover Wanaka.

Thanks to all of the amazing photographers that are helping us to share this beautiful place.