Story: South Canterbury places
Page 8 – Waitaki
Settlement at the northern end of the main road and rail bridges over the Waitaki River. It was known until 1890 as ‘Waitaki North’. Glenavy is 24 km south-east of Waimate. It gained an accommodation house in 1860 and a village settlement in 1881. It grew further after the subdivision of the Waikākahi Estate in 1899. Between about 1900 and 1960, Glenavy was smaller than nearby Morven. But its position on the main road and its popularity with salmon fishermen have saved it from the decline which Morven has suffered.
In 1929 an electricity substation was built at Glenavy to feed power from Lake Coleridge to the Waitaki hydro construction site. In the 1950s and early 1960s a Ministry of Works construction camp swelled the population, while new road and rail bridges were built to replace the old combined bridge of 1877.
In 2001 the state-owned Meridian Energy Company proposed Project Aqua, which would divert up to 77% of the Waitaki River to a canal, to generate much-needed hydroelectricity. There was widespread opposition: it would threaten fishing and wildlife habitats, raise nitrate levels in ground water, and increase coastal erosion. As a result, in 2004 Meridian abandoned the scheme.
Settlement 60 km west of Waimate. It lies on the north bank of the Waitaki River where it joins the Hakataramea River. Hakataramea became a rail terminus in 1881. But it was outgrown by neighbouring Kurow (in North Otago) and it never developed beyond a small settlement.
At the head of the Hakataramea River, the Hakataramea Pass leads into the Mackenzie Country. The Hakataramea Valley is part of the South Canterbury high country, with broad mountain landscapes. Sheep farming is the main activity.
Mountain range separating the Hakataramea Valley from the Mackenzie Country. North of the range, the Grampian Mountains and Dalgety and Rollesby ranges mark the eastern boundary of the Mackenzie Country as far north as Burkes Pass.
River that drains the glaciers on a long stretch of the Southern Alps, from Mt D’Archiac down into North Otago. It has been harnessed for hydroelectric power from the three major lakes in its Mackenzie Country headwaters down to the original 1935 Waitaki hydro above Kurow.
The Upper Waitaki power scheme, built in the 1970s and early 1980s, gave South Canterbury a pivotal position in New Zealand’s electricity supply industry. The lower Waitaki is one of the country’s premier salmon fishing rivers. The river is also the source of water for southern South Canterbury’s early Redcliffs and later Morven–Glenavy irrigation schemes. The lower Waitaki, separating South Canterbury and North Otago, forms one of the country’s most enduring regional boundaries.