Upper reaches

The upper reaches of the Waikato writhe like a serpent through the fertile farmland of Broadlands Forest.

Produced by New Zealand Geographic

The land is a patchwork of agriculture—from enormous pivot irrigators that orbit paddocks of dairy cows, to the corduroy fields patrolled by combine harvesters.

Dense vegetation on the river banks protects the river from fertilisers and stock effluent, but in the places where that riparian margin is thin, it flows into the river from farm ditches, culverts and tributaries. In these headwaters the river still runs clear, but everyone along its banks is culpable for the state of the river at its mouth at Port Waikato.

Wetlands are the kidneys of a river system, filtering out toxins, absorbing nutrients and stabilising sediment. Likewise, planting along farm margins absorbs nutrients, fertiliser and stock effluent at source, protecting waterways. (Research suggests margins must be more than five metres wide to be effective.) Planting and wetland restoration is funded by a number of agencies and available as tax breaks for primary producers.

Episodes From This Location

Soak it up

1 minute / 2019

Hinemoa’s Needle

1 minute / 2019

Ride a log truck

1 minute / 2019

Dive the Waikato

1 minute / 2019

Hot rocks

1 minute / 2019

Upper reaches

1 minute / 2019

Inside a power station

1 minute / 2019

Fly over a power station

1 minute / 2019

Ride in a jet boat

1 minute / 2019

Flying high

1 minute / 2019

Go eeling

1 minute / 2019

Leviathans

1 minute / 2019

Paddle a waka

1 minute / 2019

The torrent

1 minute / 2019