69 Waikato River Facts: Learn More About This Unique River | Kidadl


69 Waikato River Facts: Learn More About This Unique River

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The Waikato River, which runs 264 mi (425 km) through New Zealand's North Island, is the country's longest river.

It flows past Lake Taupō, New Zealand's largest lake, after beginning on the eastern slopes of Mount Ruapehu and entering the Tongariro River system. Waikato runs northwest through the Waikato Plains, emptying Taupō and forming the Huka Falls on the lake's northeastern coast.

It is the primary source of hydroelectric power on the North Island. In 1863–65 it was the site of multiple confrontations between the British and the Waikato tribes.

Fun Facts About The Waikato River

The Waikato River offers a wide range of sports throughout its extensive, winding path to the Tasman Sea.

Waikato is derived from the Maori language and means 'flowing water.' The Waikato River holds spiritual significance for several Maori tribes in the area, particularly the Tainui, who see it as a symbol of mana, meaning pride.

The Waikato River is supplied by about 10,563 mi (17,000 km) of tributary streams and drains a 4,252 sq mi (11,013 sq km) catchment area.

It first rushes through a narrow valley with a steep gradient, quick flows, and numerous rapids.

Due to water reservoirs in the hydro lakes, the period of water in the river has increased from around five to six days to 40 days in low water and 16 days in high water flow levels.

The Waikato region comprises nine hydropower stations that produce more electricity than other regions of New Zealand.

Between Taupō and Karāpiro, there are a total of eight hydroelectric dams which can create 1,450 MW of power.

Lake Karapiro is the river's largest hydro lake. Lake Karapiro hosts a wide range of cultural and sporting activities, including international competitions.

Waikato River Trails is a prominent member of the New Zealand Cycle Trails network. This fantastic journey is conveniently placed near many of New Zealand's largest cities and towns and is only a few hours from Auckland's international airport.

Opened in 2011, Waikato River Trails is a 62 mi (100 km) network of linking river cycling trails in South Waikato.

The Waikato River Trails are separated into five sections that range in difficulty from easy to challenging.

It covers level and gently undulating terrain at times, is steeper and more rugged at other times, and is suitable for all seasons due to the mild environment.

During the winter, from June to August, areas of the route can get muddy, and the fog lifts typically expose a clear sky.

Te Awa River Ride follows the river for 31 mi (50 km) from Horahora. It follows the river at the end of the Waikato River Trails to Ngruawhia via Cambridge and Hamilton.

The Waikato River Trails Trust was established in 2011 to create a network of trails along the Waikato River to attract visitors to the picturesque South Waikato region.

Located on State Highway 1 in Putaruru, the Waikato River Trails Trust offers guidance, shuttles, bike rentals, luggage transfers, and guided excursions.

Geographical Facts About Waikato River

The river's geography makes it excellent for generating energy, and the river's network of dams generates up to 13% of the country's power demands.

The Waikato River is known as the longest river situated in New Zealand.

The Waikato River stretches to 264 mi (425 km) and encompasses 12% of the North Island's land area.

On Mount Ruapehu's eastern slopes, the river begins as a series of minor streams, with the Mangatoetoenui Glacier serving as one of its major tributaries.

The Upper Waikato Stream is the tributary's southernmost branch.

On the western bank of the Waikato, where the river is at its deepest, a 66 ft (20 m) bluff looms above the water.

From the Kaimanawa Mountains to the west, the Waipakihi River meets the Waikato.

As a tributary of the Tongariro, the Poutu Stream flows east from Lake Rotoaira.

It runs across the agricultural heartland of North Island, near State Highway 1, to the Huka Falls, while State Highway 5 runs alongside it in the northeast.

The Waikato River travels into the sea in the central north volcanic area and then flows into Lake Taupo, and from there, it flows north, cutting through the volcanic plateau.

The Waikato River is highlighted by spectacular dams and serene hydro-lakes passing through eight hydroelectric dams.

It flows into the lowlands from Cambridge to Mercer and then towards its ending point, the Tasman Sea and Port Waikato, covering a long journey of 264 mi (425 km) from Lake Taupo.

The river enters the Hamilton Basin at Karapiro and travels 93 mi (150 km) downstream of Karpiro to Port Waikato, maintaining a predetermined path that grows shallower as it approaches Taupiri.

The Waipā River, which contributes up to half of the Waikato flow, enters the Waikato at Ngāruawāhia.

The Waikato River is less clear north of Ngāruawāhia due to sediment from the Waipā River.

The Waikato River emerges from the Hamilton at Huntly, in the Taupiri Gap, and runs through a flood plain north of Huntly.

The tiny lakes and wetlands are created around the Whangamarino wetland and Opuatia wetland.

The Waikato river goes through a delta west of Tuakau, composed of a network of channels built among islands of deposited sediment.

At Port Waikato, the river enters Maioro Bay, where daily tides affect this lower part, creating changes in water levels as far up as Rangiriri.

Land clearing, flood control projects, and wetland drainage have changed the nature of this flood plain.

The government has invested in a farmer-led watershed group in South Waikato to aid its work to enhance farming practices.

Waikato river facts reveal that it is the longest river in New Zealand that encompasses 12% of the area of North Island

Waikato River's Ecosystem

The Waikato River and its watershed area are teeming with life, with a diverse range of flora and animals.

The Waikato river passes through birdlife, scenic scenery, industrial architecture, and other breathtaking views.

The marshes and canals of the Whangamarino Wetland in the Waikato are home to thousands of game birds, 22 types of fish species, and whitebait spawning habitats.

A diverse diversity of flora and fauna rely on the environment for their survival, including numerous rare and endangered species like the gigantic kōkopu.

Iwi, who lives near the Waikato River's lower reaches, testifies to the river's historical richness.

Maori loved the river because it was crystal clear and full of food.

A deep main channel runs through the river, gently sloping ledges and beaches.

The riparian fringe restricts aquatic vegetation to areas where sunlight reaches.

Stormwater runoff into the river is increasing due to urban expansion.

The inflow waters of the Waipa River are murky, which is why Kkopu larvae travel upstream to avoid the murky water.

Due to turbid water, some galaxiid fish cannot migrate upstream, and Glenbrook is tainted by seawater.

Flooding often occurred in the low-lying plains close to the river north of Huntly, causing flows into lakes and marshes. During floods, the floodplain supplied the eel feeding habitat.

The endangered black mudfish, Inanga, and the black flounder can be found in the Waikato region.

Numerous exotic fishes like koi, carp, catfish, goldfish, and gambusia are found in the Waikato region.

Freshwater sponges, snail larvae, pea mussels, insects, and freshwater mussels, are among the other animals found in the region.

Mysid shrimp are rarely found, whereas freshwater shrimp dominate invertebrate ecosystems.

As the river's tidal water levels have an impact as far upstream as Rangiriri, the marshes of Rangiriri have been cleared of black mudfish.

The young Inanga hatch and connect with the other whitebait species moving upstream in the spring.

Floodgates and riverside vegetation grazing limit inanga spawning habitat.

Historical Facts About Waikato River

The current channel of the mighty Waikato river was shaped by a volcanic eruption that occurred 1,800 years ago. The massive outflow of volcanic debris at Lake Karapiro blocked the traditional channel to the Firth of Thames, forcing the river to divert west, then towards the north.

The ancestral Waikato River, which is 17,000 years old, drained a massive lake in the center of Lake Huka.

The Waikato River flows through gorges formed by welded ignimbrite and rhyolite before entering the Hauraki Gulf through the Hinuera Valley.

A significant eruption devastated Lake Huka resulting in the formation of a new lake known as Lake Taupo.

The water level in Waihora Bay rose 390 ft (120 m) above the current level into the Mangakino Stream, which has served as the outflow for thousands of years.

The lake spilled out of its basin at the current exit 22,500 years ago.

The Mangakino Stream outlet started to dry up as the lake level dropped.

Large amounts of eruption debris elevated the riverbed resulting in the widespread alluvium in the valleys, which dammed several tributary streams.

There is a formation of numerous small lakes, and the debris gradually starts to drift away.

The Waitoa River and Hinuera Gap are remnants of the river's former course.

The river followed its new channel through the Maungatautari Gorge and Hamilton Basin, already in the Waikato Basin 21,800 years ago.

The route was clogged with flood debris, and therefore a new channel was created, which was repeated for several years.

Debris had dropped even more 17,000 years ago, causing the river to deepen its bed and become stranded in its current path.

The Taupō eruption in 230 CE once again blocked the outlet of Lake Taupō, and the breakout flood deposited pumiceous debris along the length of the river basin.

Due to degradation, the river became deeper, leaving low terraces coated in pumice.

Written By
Lydia Samson

<p>A diligent and driven mass communications graduate from Caleb University, Lydia has experience in media and a passion for digital marketing and communications. She is an effective communicator and team-builder with strong analytical, management, and organizational skills. She is a self-starter with a positive, can-do attitude.</p>

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