Nestled under the western shoulder of Kahurangi National Park, the Mokihinui is the West Coast’s third largest river, draining the vast uplands and mountains of the Lyell, Radiant, Allen, Glasgow and Matiri Ranges.
Flanked by beech forests, ancient podocarps, riotous displays of rata, and rimu festooned with kiekie, the river falls steeply from the towering 1000 acre plateau, meanders over expansive alluvial flats, before dashing across granite and greywacke boulders, as it twists and turns through the gorge before meeting the Tasman Sea.
The river and surrounding forest land provide habitat for numerous threatened species - such as great spotted kiwi, western weka, whio (blue duck), longfin eel and Powelliphanta snails.
Put it in a Park
At the mouth of the deeply incised gorge, Meridian Energy proposed a vast hydro electricity scheme –an 85 metre high dam that would have radically changed this spectacular river – turning it into a sluggish reservoir.
Forest & Bird, along with the Department of Conservation (DOC) and other NGOs had started the expensive and time-consuming task of appealing the resource consent decision to proceed with the dam until the plan was abandoned by Meridian in May 2012.
To ensure this river stays wild and its towering forests remain untouched, we ask that the Mokihinui river and its extensive catchment be added to the adjacent Kahurangi National Park.
Not only will this safeguard the river from future hydro and mining proposals but it will allow Forest & Bird to better advocate for greater pest control.
To add the Mokihinui into Kahurangi National Park, DOC must initiate a Section 8 analysis of its ecological values. Fortunately, much of this work has been done as we prepared to fight to save the Mokihunui in the courts.
You can encourage DOC to put the ‘Mokihinui in the Park’ by adding your name to our list of supporters. Below are some of the species that you will be working to protect:
Blue Duck (whio)
The Blue Duck (whio) thrives in our fast-flowing rivers such as the Mokihinui. It is one of only two torrent ducks in the world. Large-scale hydro-dams, predation by stoats & competition from introduced trout for food have threatened this species with extinction. It is now listed as endangered.
Powelliphanta or giant land snail
Our endangered Powelliphanta snails are largely confined to the north west of the South Island. Damming the river would affect the natural process of colonising the gorge in flood events, whilst mining would make their habitat uninhabitable. Placing the area in a National Park will safeguard the habitat for this species.
Longfin eels are on the decline throughout the country due to loss of habitat through dams and commercial fishing. By placing the Mokihinui river in Kahurangi National Park, this population of critically endangered Longfin eels can be made safe from commercial and recreational harvest.
Western weka are incredibly inquisitive native birds. Decline of weka populations in recent years has been dramatic. The gorge offers a valuable home for these iconic species.
Long tailed bats
The Mokihinui’s mature trees provide one of few good roosting sites for our long tailed bats and its forest is one last remaining undisturbed stretches of low altitude beech forest – their preferred habitat. Once common in NZ in the 1800s, long-tailed bat populations have declined in recent years because of habitat loss through lowland forest clearance and predation by cats, possums, rats, and stoats
Great spotted kiwi
North-west Nelson is a stronghold for our threatened Great Spotted Kiwi – a bird whose population has seen a 43% decline in the past 45 years. Pigs, dogs, ferrets and stoats are just some of the species that prey on these iconic birds. Expanding Kahurangi National Park with improved pest control would help put this species into recovery mode.