Waimakariri River

river in New Zealand

The Waimakariri River is one of the largest rivers in Canterbury, New Zealand. It is on the eastern coast of New Zealand's South Island. It flows for 151 kilometres (94 mi) southeast from the Southern Alps across the Canterbury Plains to the Pacific Ocean.

Waimakariri River
Waimakariri03 gobeirne.jpg
View of the Waimakariri River looking towards the Southern Alps
NZ-Waimakariri R.png
Map of the course of the Waimakariri River
CountryNew Zealand
Physical characteristics
SourceSouthern Alps, near Mount Rolleston
 - locationSouthern Alps, Canterbury
 - coordinates42°54′13″S 171°29′48″E / 42.90361°S 171.49667°E / -42.90361; 171.49667
 - elevation1,535 m (5,036 ft)
MouthBrooklands Lagoon, Pacific Ocean
 - locationnear Kaiapoi
 - coordinates43°23′26″S 172°42′29″E / 43.39056°S 172.70806°E / -43.39056; 172.70806Coordinates: 43°23′26″S 172°42′29″E / 43.39056°S 172.70806°E / -43.39056; 172.70806
 - elevation0 m (0 ft)
Length151 km (94 mi)
 - average76 m3/s (2,700 cu ft/s)
Basin features
 - leftBealey River, Poulter River, Esk River, Eyre River, Kaiapoi River
 - rightWhite River, Broken River, Kowai River, Styx River

The river is a fine example of a braided river. As the photograph shows, for much of its upper reaches, the river is braided. It runs across wide shingle beds. As the river approaches the Canterbury Plains, it passes through a belt of mountains. There it is forced into a narrow canyon (the Waimakariri Gorge). Then it goes back to its braided form across the plains. It enters the Pacific north of Christchurch, near the town of Kaiapoi.

Most New Zealand river beds are unoccupied crown land, but the bed of the Waimakariri River is looked after by the Canterbury Regional Council (Environment Canterbury).[1]


  1. Waimakariri River Improvement Act 1922, Section 17(1) - Parliament of New Zealand.