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Camping at the Upper Taieri

April 6, 2010

Macraes Bridge over Taieri River (CC by SA)

Over Easter my family and I camped by the upper Taieri river near a small town, well barely a village, called Waipiata.  It’s become ‘known’ being on the path of the Rail Trail and is near Ranfurly. We camped under an old bridge (I didn’t take a photo so this one of the Macraes Bridge downstream is the closest I could find) in a camping domain.

It was a peaceful spot, the only sound was the warbling from our toddler Harrison. The river was flowing gently past, with lots of little cress-type plants floating on top –most likely a mix of introduced and native species.

Sad to say though I wouldn’t have touched even a toe in that water or had my kids play in it. Like many regions  in New Zealand water quality in Otago is declining (according to State of the Environment reports). When we went for a short walk upstream we saw sheep in it as well as grazing at the water’s edge. But the biggest issue for the river’s health are the dairy farms on the flats and runoff from them.

I haven’t been up that way for a few years but I don’t recall any dairy farms being there previously. They jump out starkly – irrigated green against the otherwise arid brown landscape. For some that’s a sign of progress and wealth coming into the area, but I bet not many think of how it impacts on the river.

I just came across a story, New Approach to Dealing with Runoff Pollution, from the Otago Daily Times that looks at how the council is dealing with that very issue. It will be interesting to see if it goes ahead and how that system is monitored.

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