Ashley River/Rakahuri vegetation clearance project

Thank you for your feedback on vegetation clearance areas

In late 2020 we secured funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Kānoa – Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit (MBIE – REDIU), towards flood protection works to help improve climate resilience for the Ashley community and commenced work on the Ashley River/Rakahuri vegetation clearance project in early 2021.

These works are ongoing and may affect landowners on either side of both the Ashley River/Rakahuri between Ashley Gorge and the Okuku River and the Okuku River upstream to just north of the Grey River.

With the assistance of people who contacted us we confirmed the clearance areas between the Ashley and Okuku Rivers.

Work is on track, with physical clearance of sprayed vegetation in the Ashley River, downstream of Cottles Road and in the Okuku River, due to start in early April 2022.

Thank you for your feedback on vegetation clearance areas

In late 2020 we secured funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Kānoa – Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit (MBIE – REDIU), towards flood protection works to help improve climate resilience for the Ashley community and commenced work on the Ashley River/Rakahuri vegetation clearance project in early 2021.

These works are ongoing and may affect landowners on either side of both the Ashley River/Rakahuri between Ashley Gorge and the Okuku River and the Okuku River upstream to just north of the Grey River.

With the assistance of people who contacted us we confirmed the clearance areas between the Ashley and Okuku Rivers.

Work is on track, with physical clearance of sprayed vegetation in the Ashley River, downstream of Cottles Road and in the Okuku River, due to start in early April 2022.

  • Project updates

    supporting image

    The clearance area in this project is divided into 2 locations:

    • Completed March 2022 Location 1: A 15-kilometre section of the Ashley River from Ashley Gorge (about 536ha).
    • Location 2: An 8-kilometre section of the Ashley River, from the end of Location 1 to the Okuku confluence and approximately 7.5 km upstream in the Okuku River to just west of the Grey River confluence (about 140 ha).


    In March 2022 we completed the physical clearance of vegetation at Location 1. In this area whole trees with trunks down to approximately 100 mm diameter were removed. Trees immediately adjacent to active streams, smaller trees, stumps and brushweeds were not removed. We also conducted further aerial spraying with herbicide that will be part of ongoing maintenance.

    Future physical clearance of trees will be limited to those left which currently adjoin active braids. As the braids move in future, these trees may be subject to removal to improve flow capacity of the riverbed. Other regrowth will be controlled by ground and aerial spraying.

    With regards to feedback we received from adjacent landowners, the next clearance area has been planned for Location 2 lower in the Ashley River and in the Okuku River. Clearance will involve a mix of aerial spraying in densely vegetated areas and physical clearance with trees removed by cutting and extraction.

  • Location 2 river clearance area


  • Why are we doing this?

    Flood protection

    The Ashley River/Rakahuri is a key feature of the North Canterbury landscape and one that poses a major flood risk to the local community living on its floodplain. For this project, costing about $1 million, we are planning to remove exotic vegetation (mainly willow and brush weeds) which is currently choking a 21 kilometre section of the river between Ashley Gorge and the Okuku River confluence, and in the Okuku River. Left unchecked this vegetation is a flood and erosion risk, occupying the channel and forcing flood waters towards farmland. Weed growth can also contribute to the loss of aquatic habitats and nesting areas for native birds.

    Protection and restoration of our braided rivers

    Braided Rivers are a precious and iconic part of the Canterbury environment. We are prioritising the protection and restoration of their unique values as part of our Braided River Revival/Whakahaumanu Ngā Awa ā Pākihi work. As a result of the introduction and invasion of weeds, predators, and human activities, braided rivers and their bird species, plants, native fish and insects are under threat. Through this project in the Ashley River/Rakahuri, and others across the region, we are working on the restoration of our rivers normal braided character, which will in turn will enhance a range of natural biodiversity values, including natural braided river habitats.

Page last updated: 03 May 2022, 11:05 AM