6. Reasons for application

This page has section six of the New Zealand Fish and Game Council and the Otago Fish and Game Council application to amend the Water Conservation (Kawarau) River) Order. 

6.1  Fish and Game submits that the Nevis River is one of the few remaining free flowing rivers in Central Otago District.  While it was mined for gold from the 1870's onwards until the 1930s any channel damage that occurred during that period has now been repaired by natural geomorphological processes leaving it largely in its natural state.

6.2  The Nevis has already been recognised as being outstanding as a trout fishery, for scenic (above Nevis Crossing) and wild characteristics (below Nevis Crossing) and for kayaking.  However these and other outstanding values should be recognised, sustained and protected in accordance with section 199 of the Resource Management Act 1991.

6.3  Fish and Game submit that the natural features of the Nevis River that need to be recognised are:

  • Trout habitat values providing the basis for a trophy brown trout fishery.
  • Native fishery values within the catchment being of bio-geographical importance.
  • The Nevis River and river valley’s importance as a landform feature the river being free-flowing within a largely unmodified backcountry setting.
  • Scenic values in the river below Nevis Crossing to the Kawarau River
  • The Nevis gold field’s national importance from a historic perspective.
  • Backcountry trout fishery characteristics dependant on the recreational setting (scenic, historic an natural attributes of the river); size of fish; diversity of angling opportunity available (from accessible to challenging)

6.4  Fish and Game submit that by not prohibiting the damming of the Nevis River, the river's outstanding trout fishery, outstanding scenic, natural and historic values and wild characteristics and outstanding recreational characteristics are not adequately protected.  Fish and Game submit that in order to protect these characteristics damming of the Nevis River must be prohibited.

Changes in Statutory Planning Framework

6.5  Fish and Game submit that statutory planning documents approved since the original WCO decision should be taken into consideration in assessing the outstanding characteristics of the river.

Sports Fish and Game Management Plan (SFGMP)

6.6  The SFGMP (Otago Fish and Game Council 2003) categorises recreational angling opportunities for Otago within a spectrum of settings from remote unmodified landscapes through to urban settings and identifies significant sports fish and game habitats. The recreational opportunity spectrum (ROS) categories are defined by criteria [Appendix 2].  Remote and backcountry categories are particularly sensitive to major developments or increases in recreational pressure.  They are limited in number, highly valued by anglers and threatened by major developments and/or overuse.  One key Fish and Game objective is to protect remote and backcountry fisheries and to maintain the recreational, opportunity that the backcountry end of the ROS affords.

6.7  The Nevis is classified as a nationally important ‘backcountry’ fishery with key features being a largely unmodified natural landscape; relatively low encounter rates; better than average catch rate and size of fish; remote location distant from centres of population; and limited access. There are only 5 other rivers classified in the SFGMP as nationally important ‘backcountry’ fisheries in Otago. They are the Greenstone, Caples, Lochy, and Hunters Rivers.

Otago Conservation Management Strategy (CMS)

6.8  The Nevis valley is included in the Otago Conservation Management Strategy (DoC 1996) as part of one of Otago’s 41 ‘Special Places’. The ‘Remarkables’ special place includes the Remarkables, the Nevis Valley and north Hector Mountains.  The Strategy’s objective for the area is..  

“To protect the very high landscape and ecological values of the area and its historic value and the remoteness of parts of it, while allowing appropriate parts of it to be used for a range of recreational opportunities including the existing commercial skifields”

The CMS notes that:

“The natural and historic resources of the Nevis Valley are still being uncovered. Recent discoveries include uncommon galaxid species in the streams and special plant communities on valley terraces, including tussock grasslands.”

[Appendix 3 – Excerpts from Otago Conservation Management Strategy, DoC 1996]

Otago Regional Plan: Water

6.9  Schedule 1A of the Water Plan detailing the natural values notes that the Nevis has numerous instream ecological values, and a high degree of naturalness [see Appendix 4].

6.10  Relevant objectives and policies include [see Appendix 4]:

  1. Objectives 5.3.3,  5.3.4, 5.3.7
  2. Policies 5.4.1, 5.4.2, 5.4.8, 5.4.9, 5.4.10

6.11  There is no specific rule in relation to damming the Nevis,  The general rule applies, being rule which makes damming a discretionary activity.