Explore the Waitaki Valley rivers.
the waitaki valley has formed over millions of years
The Waitaki braided river is characterised by gravel beds, numerous channels and variable flows, which are unique to parts of the world with young, rapidly eroding mountains.
The upper part of the Waitaki Basin was formed thousands of years ago when glaciers retreated, leaving behind beds of gravel and boulders.
Ongoing geological uplift, erosion and alluvial transport continue to maintain the Waitaki braided river and associated wetlands.
Only Alaska, Canada and the Himalayas have the same extensive braided river systems that New Zealand has.
Although the specific tradition behind the name has been lost, it literally means “the waterway of tears” and is often referred to in whaikōrero (oratory) as representing the tears of Aoraki.
The river was an important ara tawhito (traditional travel route) and you can still see the proof of that in the well-known rock art sites located in the numerous limestone outcrops and shelters.
The Waitaki River is also home to extensive biodiversity including threatened plants and endangered wildlife like the nationally endangered tarapiroe or black-fronted tern.
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