Project Title: Cardrona Kaitiaki

Funding Close Date: 15 Mar 2020



Metres Planted:
600 m

NZD $60000

Location: Cardrona

GPS Coordinates: -44.871710, 169.012505

Project Cost: NZD $60000

Cost per Metre: NZD $100

Metres to be planted: 600m

Field Partner: Otago Regional Council

Project ID: SI11

Project Description:

2021 update: 

Like our previous projects, at the end of planting for the year we go back and assess the total number of meters planted.  We do this to double check what we predicted and in hope of planting over our goal. And guess what? WE DID!! In fact we planted 1,858m across 9 different sites. Almost 3 times the amount we originally projected!! This brings our grand total so far to 5,004m. 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!

update: Thank you & MORE MATCH

Wow, thanks to all of your donations, we’ve unlocked all of Speight’s match funding :)! Ka pai!  

We have a new matching opportunity: Fonterra has come on board to match all donations to Million Metres projects up to $50,000 as part of their Sustainable Catchments Programme.

So, donate today and your donation will be matched!


The legends at Speight’s are helping us look after what matters – New Zealand’s precious waterways! Speight’s are helping three massive efforts to restore our waterways this year: Cardrona River, Taramaire Stream and Otawera Stream.  Every donation to Cardrona Kaitiaki will now be matched by Speight’s up to $10,000. Make your donation today!

Wai wanaka

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

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 communities that make up the Upper Clutha. It underpins the economy of these communities and draws visitors from around New Zealand and the world.

Wai Wanaka was formed to protect our local waterways. We are a group of passionate individuals and organisations working to ensure that the lakes, rivers, streams and aquifers in this area remain clean and healthy for generations to come. We have community-wide representation, including all of the agencies charged with looking after our water. Our agreed vision enabled a successful Ministry for the Environment application to the Freshwater Improvement Fund for a multi-year project. The Wanaka Water Project relies on the support of crowd funding to plant along local 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.

We’re collecting lots of native seed and growing eco-sourced seedlings in Te Kākano Aotearoa Trust’s community nursery. Other plants are sourced from commercial nurseries that also grow plants from locally sourced seed.

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.

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% of the funds raised will go to Million Metres for their administration of the website and assistance with fundraising.

We’ve already run two successful Love Lake Wanaka crowd funding campaigns. So far we’ve planted 6,585 plants equating to over 1000 metres along our local waterways.

This funding will go towards supporting an additional 6,000 native trees to be planted along along the Cardona River, its tributaries and the wider Upper Clutha Catchment during the 2020 and 2021 planting seasons. 

Cardrona Kaitiaki

The beautiful scenic drive to or from Wanaka along the Cardrona Valley leads over the Crown Range which, at 1,121 metres, is the highest main road in New Zealand.

The Cardrona Valley offers skiing, snowboarding and cross country skiing in winter and mountain biking, horse trekking and hiking in summer. Every New Year the Cardrona Valley hosts the Rhythm & Alps music festival which sees thousands of people camping out to enjoy the two-day event.

We all love the Cardrona Valley and the Wanaka Water Project is now focussing on this rapidly growing sub-region. The Valley has a multitude of issues which affect water quality:

  • Rural pressures include livestock accessing waterways and water taken for irrigation.
  • The increasing tourism popularity of the Cardrona Valley increases dust (eg from ski field access roads and from the variety of operators in the valley). There are more contaminants entering waterways as a result of the run-off from roads generated by rainfall or melting snow along with increased amounts of litter and waste generated by visitors.
  • And finally there are urban development pressures. The Cardrona Valley is currently one of the fastest growing areas in the Upper Clutha Catchment. Infrastructure lags development, putting strain on wastewater systems. Local waterways are sensitive to sediment, pathogens and bacteria contained in run-off from impermeable surfaces (roads, driveways and housing), land use change and construction activities.

The farming community in the Cardrona are working with ORC to ensure that the quantity of water in the Cardrona River continues to provide healthy habitats and eco-systems. The Wanaka Water Project will build on this work by helping willing land owners to plant along the Cardrona River, local streams and wetlands.

Some planting has already occurred at Cameron Creek, thanks to Sustainable Coastlines and Wai Wanaka. A number of on-farm sites have already qualified through our vetting process. The re-establishment of wetlands will help water retention and help maintain water flows in a very dry catchment.


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, the Cardrona River and below to Luggate Creek.

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 and Lake Hawea are home to the Koaro (one of five white bait species ‘at risk’ for extinction), Common Bully and Long Fin Eel (Tuna). The lakes support three introduced gamefish species: Chinook Salmon, Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout.


There are increasing pressures on these waterways, such as 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 now approximately 7,800 residences in the Upper Clutha region and there is consent for 4,000 more. This development is increasing run-off and rapidly growing the stormwater footprint of local communities.

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 and other services to keep pace with such rapid growth.

This growth and development is beginning to show some impacts. Our waterways have three introduced “pests” (Didymo, Lake Snow and Lagarosiphon) and we don’t want any more!


Every business, resident and visitor to Wanaka, Cardrona and the Upper Clutha 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.

Wai Wanaka – 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 Wanaka Water Project, on behalf of Upper Clutha Lakes Trust.

Catchments Otago, Otago University – aims to help protect threatened landscapes and support equitable and appropriate land and water management in Otago. Catchments Otago runs the Applied Research component of the Wanaka Water 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.


Thanks to all of the amazing photographers that are helping us to share this beautiful place. Special thanks to Geoff Perry, Stephen Jaquiery, Sam Judd and others who have so brilliantly captured these waterways and shared their photos with us.


Speight’s partnership with Million Metres brings to life their commitment to taking care of what matters. Over the last 10 years, Speight’s has supported environmental projects in the Otago region via the Speight’s Fund. In 2019, Speight’s and Million Metres partnered to transform this programme to deliver support to waterway restoration projects in Otago, and nationally. Speight’s supported a huge planting effort in 2019, and 2020 is shaping up to be another massive year! Million Metres and Speight’s will continue to develop this partnership overtime to grow its impact. Keep up to date on how things are progressing here.