Downstream – A journey from Summit to Sea

20 Mar 2017 by The Million Metres team Auckland Council Northland

To be truly inspired to protect our waterways requires a special connection. It’s about getting outside and seeing what the blue line on the map has to tell you in person. It’s about learning the river’s story. Million Metres is partnering with a special expedition doing just that. 

Million Metres has teamed up with the Downstream Project. It's a special expedition by a group of young New Zealanders from the source of the Waikato River to the sea. They are spending the time walking, kayaking and camping beside the river. They are interviewing farmers, families, iwi, councils and environmental organisations along the way. Their experiences are being shared through photography, film and hopefully a publication.

Dan Kelly from Downstream says: “While we know we're not the first to explore the river, it's our first time and there's been so much to see and learn about, so it's a real journey in that sense too.

Water quality is huge, but so is addressing historical injustice and trying to contribute to what we think it means to be New Zealanders - and it all starts with the journey, getting to know the people, the places, and the issues - and tying them back to the river and its mauri, its life force.”

The team is passing through National Parks, towns, cities, hydro dams, and dairy farms. They will cross Māori land, state and private land, before meeting the ocean at Port Waikato.

Downstream’s journey is beginning just as Million Metres launches its first project in the Waikato region. Te Onetea Stream Planting is teaming up with Waikato River Care and Waikato Regional Council. The project aims to plant more than 2,000 native trees to help revitalise the river.

Georgina Hart, Million Metres Project Lead, says: “It’s a privilege to have inspired young New Zealanders starting to really engage with and support Million Metres through projects like Downstream. We are stoked to have this team incorporating Million Metres into their amazing project. And we’re excited to bring you their stories. Initiatives like Downstream help educate and inspire New Zealanders to take care of waterways and that’s what we need more of .”

You can follow the Downstream on the Million Metres Instagram and Facebook. If you would like to support Downstream you can email