The Esk and Central coasts catchments is the smallest of six catchments in Hawke’s Bay. Its two parts are the Esk Valley which is one of the northern gateways to the region, and Lake Tūtira and surrounds with the established conservation features like Guthrie-Smith Outdoor Education Centre; Pan Pac Kiwi Crèche at Lake Opouahi; DOC’s Boundary Creek reserve, and the Tūtira Regional Park.
The major waterways in the region drain from the Maungaharuru Range, the Waikare, Aropaoanui/ Arapawanui, Te Ngarue and Esk Rivers, as well as a few smaller coastal streams. There are many lakes, namely Tūtira, Waikopiro, Opouahi and Orakai. Lake Tūtira, Lake Waikōpiro and Aropaoanui/ Arapawanui River were granted outstanding water body status in 2021.
Sheep and beef and production forestry are the main land use types in the catchments, with a small amount of dairy and deer farming occurring near Tūtira. Orchards and vineyards line the lower parts of the Esk Valley.
Two small power stations, Rimu and Toronui, are sited on the Esk River and have an annual output of 15Gwh per year.
HBRC maintains a flood control scheme, established in 1996, in the Esk Valley and Whirinaki coastal area. The scheme is also designed to protect the Whirinaki Mill and associated power plant.
The Moremore Mataitai reserve is located along the coast just north of the Esk River mouth and covers traditional fishing grounds.
The catchments are prone to flash flooding, noting the last significant flood in 2018. It is predicted that flooding will increase with climate change.
Erosion rates are high due to steep topography and soft sedimentary geology. Sediment, combined with phosphorus from topdressing, makes its way into the waterways and lakes, and impacts ecosystem health. E.coli concentrations at monitoring sites are elevated at times.
Lake health is a mixed bag in the four lakes we monitor, but all score poor or very poor in the trophic level index. Algal blooms, fuelled by a legacy of nutrients that have made their way into the systems, are the main driver of these poor scores.
Old Man’s Beard, Japanese Honeysuckle and Apple of Sodom are the key pest plants found in the catchments . HBRC is responsible for the control of Old Man’s Beard and for monitoring Japanese Honeysuckle. HBRC is also responsible for possum and rook control and the monitoring of rabbit populations in the catchments.
The following infographic displays what the community has told us about this catchment in our first round of engagement. For more information read the full Kotahi Community Engagement Report here.
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