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Originating in the Spenser Mountains, the Waiau River has the second largest catchment (3,310 km2 click to see interactive map) of North Canterbury’s rivers.
Crossing the southern edge of the Hanmer Plains, the Waiau River flows through a gorge to emerge onto the northern part of the Culverden Plains. Before reaching the sea, the river cuts through two more gorges, both of which have been investigated as possible sites for hydro-electric dams. The Waiau River enters the Pacific just north of Cheviot township. Typical of braided rivers, it forms a small lagoon and estuary system at the river mouth.
* ‘Main Divide’ refers to the area of the Southern Alps that divides the water catchments of the eastern side of the island from those on the west coast. The Main Divide also forms the boundary between the Canterbury and West Coast Regions.