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Wilberforce & Harper Rivers

The Wilberforce and Harper Rivers flow into the Rakaia River and Lake Coleridge via the Lake Coleridge Hydro Scheme. These alpine rivers form part of the Rakaia River catchment area (click to see interactive map) of approximately 2,900 km2.


Ecological and cultural significance

Extract from Selwyn Waihora Zone Implementation Plan (page 8): The Rakaia River ‘has significant cultural value for Ngāi Tahu as part of a trail to the West Coast and also for mahinga kai. The upper Rakaia area has an extensive intact and ecologically well-connected network of nationally significant wetlands, high country lakes, intermontane streams and braided riverbeds. It contains some of the largest intact wetlands in the region, including habitat for native fish and populations of native water birds.

Important Bird Areas on the Rakaia, Mathius, Wilberforce, Avoca, and Harper Rivers: links to 7-page PDF file that includes maps, habitat types, and threats relevant to the larger Rakaia catchment. This document was extracted from Forest & Bird’s 177-page 20Mb file on all rivers, lakes, and coastal areas.

Harper River

Harper River

Bird Surveys

Harper River and delta December 2018 (PDF)

Conservation activities

The majority of conservation activities in the catchment area are downstream in the Rakaia River. However, Trustpower and the Coleridge Habitat Enhancement Trust are working with BRaid through the Braided Rivers Partnershhip Project to enhance braided river bird habitats. See here for more details.

More information

Research and reference material