Te Hoiere/Pelorus River is the largest river catchment which flows into the Marlborough Sounds; a very significant area for Ngāti Kuia, who have a long and rich association with Te Hoiere and carry active kaitiaki responsibilities.
Original native forest cover dominates the upper portions of all significant tributaries, particularly the major sub-catchments of the Upper Te Hoiere and the Wakamarina. Large parts of the upper catchment and tributary headwaters are within public conservation land. An annual rainfall of up to 2650mm, makes Te Hoiere Catchment the wettest in Marlborough; with a number of tributaries (including the Kaituna River) all flowing into the Motuweka/ Havelock Estuary.
Te Hoiere is significant to local communities, industries and private landowners, as the catchment supports their economic, social and environmental well-being; Havelock, Canvastown and Rai Valley are the main population centers. Most of the valley floors are occupied by dairy farms, with some dry stock farming on more moderate hills. Hill slopes are typically exotic forest, with steeper slopes in native (see map of Te Hoiere Pelorus landuses). Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve is a very popular day stop, camping, swimming and kayaking site and the Pelorus and the Rai Rivers are regionally significant wild trout fisheries. Adjoining tributaries are important fisheries, with several being significant spawning areas.
Te Hoiere has high freshwater biodiversity values. Fourteen species of native freshwater fish have been recorded, including two ‘Threatened’ and seven ‘At Risk’ species. Several species of ‘Threatened’ and ‘Data Deficient’ freshwater invertebrates have also been recorded in the catchment. A population of nationally critical endemic long tailed bats is present and a monitoring, predator control, and habitat restoration programme aims to secure their protection. Te Hoiere Project provides an opportunity to reintroduce the nationally vulnerable species, such as the Whio (Blue Duck).
The valley floors contain several important alluvial forest remnants – large podocarp and beech forests with a rich understory of broadleaf species. A number of important and rare plants and animals are present throughout the catchment, including Shovel-Mint, the Pygmy Button Daisy and giant land snails. The wetlands and estuary margins are home to an array of wetland birds, such as the Banded Rail and Fern Bird. The estuary is a wintering site for Black-billed Gulls and provides significant areas of seagrass habitat. Key threats to biodiversity values, ecosystems and taonga species include; predation, weed incursion, habitat loss, land modification and climate change.
The Kaituna/Havelock estuary is the receiving environment of Te Hoiere Catchment and is currently classed as ‘very high’ to ‘high’ risk from adverse ecological impacts. The estuary and coastal marine area are heavily impacted by sedimentation, elevated levels of nutrients (nitrate and phosphorus), bacteria (E. coli) and Motuweka/Havelock point source discharges. Contaminants have adverse effects on the health of species and associated ecosystems, but also impact on cultural and recreational values. Although there has been some past improvement in water and habitat quality, overall water quality trends are declining.
With its variety of landscapes, rich biodiversity and cultural values, Te Hoiere Catchment has the potential to be a leading example of restoration driven by collaboration. Te Hoiere presents numerous opportunities for innovation and new learning, which could inform other restoration projects at the regional and national level.
A population of the endemic long-tailed bat resides within the Pelorus catchment. Forest and Bird have been actively involved in securing their protection for a number of years through an intensive predator control project centred at Pelorus Bridge.
Many dairy farms in Marlborough are located within the Pelorus catchment, particularly the Rai sub-catchment. Pelorus Bridge is now also on the international radar after Sir Peter Jackson chose this river valley as the setting for 'Forest River' in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, site of the ‘dwarves escaping in barrels’ scene.
Further background information
Other useful information
There are some related stories on Te Hoiere/Pelorus catchment from the Prow:
There are some interesting historical images from different sources of Te Hoiere/Pelorus: