Environment Southland

Water Story

Haere mai and welcome to our new and evolving Water Story. This is a place where you can learn more about how our fresh waterways are doing and what some of the key stresses on them are. We’ll also be sharing and profiling some of the great things that are going on across the region in an effort to help maintain and improve them. We hope you’ll come on this journey with us.


Come along and experience the Aquavan!


The Southland community will have the chance to get up close and personal with marine creatures and their coastal environment at a fun-filled and interactive family day out in Riverton.

On Saturday 7 September, the public is invited to head along to Aparima College and join in on activities as part of the Aquavan: discovering our coastal connections programme, run by the University of Otago's New Zealand Marine Studies Centre and Environment Southland. The Aquavan vehicle was purpose-built by the marine centre to provide classrooms and communities with a unique opportunity to interact with living marine creatures in chilled seawater tanks to learn more about marine ecosystems.

"The event is an opportunity for the public to come and see the Aquavan during its tour of the Aparima catchment. There will be a raft of activities and talks on the day, all with a focus on connecting people with their local environment," says Pat Hoffmann, Environment Southland environmental educator.

People will be able to interact with live marine animals in mobile viewing tanks; learn about marine ecosystems through simple, fun experiments; play with the Enviroscape model to understand how activities on the land can affect rivers and coastal ecosystems; meet scientists who are studying Southland's marine and freshwater ecosystems; chat with farmers who have set up catchment groups in the Aparima; take part in a litter collection and survey through Sustainable Coastlines, and get involved with some native plantings.

"There's something for everyone," says Pat.

In the three days preceding the event, the Aquavan will be running a hands-on programme with several schools in the Aparima catchment.

"This year, some of the students will get to explore two parts of the catchment – up- and down-stream – and really see the connections between the land, river and sea. Students will have the chance to use some of the tools of science to observe and understand what's happening in their river and their estuary.

"We rely on our environment to provide everything we need. It's important to understand more about it so we don't take more than we need and protect its health, now and for the future," says Pat.

"Tangata whenua have traditionally had extensive knowledge of the environment. They learnt to closely observe the signs because this knowledge was essential for survival, correct timing of activities and made communities more resilient to change. We can all learn to observe and connect with our rivers and estuaries better, to understand them and protect them for our own wellbeing and for the future."

An Aquavan community event will also be held at Queens Park, Invercargill, on Saturday 21 September with a special focus on stormwater and its connection with the coast. The event will also mark the end of Conservation Week/Te Wiki Tiaki Ao Tūroa, which is celebrating 50 years of community action this year.

Where: Aparima College Hall, 33 Leader Street, Riverton.

11am-1.00pm – Aparima College Hall
Explore the Aquavan and interact with live marine animals in mobile viewing tanks; learn about marine ecosystems through simple, fun experiences; chat with scientists, farmers and members of catchment groups, and; play with the Enviroscape to see how activities on the land can affect rivers and coastal ecosystems.

Listen to presentations from:

  • Sarah Thorne, NZ Landcare Trust: Southland's Catchment Groups – Working together to look after our water
  • Elaine Moriarty, Environment Southland scientist: The Water Cycle – ki uta, ki tai
  • Nuwan DeSilva, Environment Southland scientist: Jacobs River Estuary: Values, State and Trends
  • Ben Knight, Sustainable Coastlines

1-2.30pm – Estuary activities

  • Marine Metre Squared (Mm2): survey the plants and animals on the seashore and monitor the marine environment
  • Litter collection and survey led by Sustainable Coastlines

2.30-4.00pm – Environmental action

  • Native plantings along the dunes behind Aparima College
  • Sustainable Coastlines audit activity – sort litter and weigh

4.30pm – Presentation

  • Illustrated talk by New Zealand dolphin consultant at Te Hikoi museum. $3 per adult, free for children.

For more information about the Riverton event, please go to our Facebook event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/2654881537867207/ Information on our Queens Park event can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/524895901602420/