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The Conway River/Piri-tūtae-putaputa (Māori) forms part of the boundary between the Canterbury and Marlborough region. Originating in the Amuri Ranges (click for interactive catchment map) near Palmer Saddle, and gaining water from the Charwell River, the Conway River travels some 30km east through the Hundalee Hills on the southern side of the Kaikoura Ranges.
Along the upper and middle parts, the river has steep banks with ancient river terraces high above the riverbed as well as narrow but unmistakably braided river characteristics. Turning north-east at the State Highway 1 (SH1) bridge at Hundalee, the river turns south-east before discharging into the Pacific Ocean at Conway Flat.
There’s a small coastal lagoon/hapua (Māori) at the rivermouth, sheltered behind a barrier beach that only occasionally opens to sea. This small saltmash lagoon, like the Waipara River hapua, is an important habitat for many species.