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prepared for

the Clutha Parkway Steering Group


1:::::1 5 I. IS v e 11 LANDSCAPE ARCHITEC'J'

JUNE 2006


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Landscape Assessment of the Clutha Mata Au River Landscape

Anne Steven Registered Landscape Architect Wanaka


Third Report for the Clutha Parkway Steering Group

June 2006


Landscape Assessment of the
l Clutha Mata Au River Landscape
[- AND2
1.1 Study Background 1.1
1.2 Study Area 1.1
[- 1.3 Report Structure 1.1
2.1 Purposes of Assessment 2.1
2.2 Method 2.1
[ 2.3 Approach 2.2
2.4 Study Limitations 2.3
2.5 Glossary of Terms 2.3
f 2,6 The Meaning of Natural Character 2.8
2.7 Rivers as 'Natural Features' 2.10
2.8 Meaning of 'Outstanding Natural' 2.10
2,9 Meaning of 'Margin' 2.10
4.1 Introduction 4.1
4.2 Approach 4.1
l 4.3 Landscape Character Areas and River 4.4
Section Descriptions 4.7- 4.57
5.1 Introduction 5.1
5.2 Natural Character of the Clutha River 5.1
L' 5.3 Natural Character of the Primary Setting 5.5
5.4 Threats to Natural Character 5.8
5.5 Processes of Landscape Change to Retain and 5.11
[ Enhance Natural Character
5.6 Vulnerable River Landscapes 5.16
6.1 Introduction 6.1
6,2 Findings 6.1
[, 6.3 Limits of Assessment 6.1
6.4 Comparison with Other Landscape 6.1
[,- 6.5 Status of River Landscape Sections not 6.2
Meeting Outstanding Criteria
6.6 Outstanding Natural River Landscapes 6.2


Introduction and Purpose

This report documents the third of three landscape studies of the Clutha River landscape, completed for the Clutha Parkway Steering Group. The first study completed in April 2006 defined the river landscape as a corridor of land wi~h the as its central fe~ture. The second stl:.loy completed in May 2006 documented a review of existing landscape studies relevant to the river landscape.

This study sets out to describe the river landscape and to assess its quality. In particular natural character is analysed, to identify what contributes to it and what is detracting from it. This is because preservation of the natural character of rivers and their margins is a section 6 matter of the Resource Management Act and is thus a prime objective of loeal authori.ty. The river landscape is also assessed to determine if any part of it is deserving of outstanding landscape status.

Study Area

The study area is tnat part of the river corridor landscape and its viewshea within the Oentral Otago District. It is exp.ected that it will be carried Qut in the other two districts containing the river landscape, Queenstown Lakes and Clutha districts, thus GOmp.leting a river~wide studY.

CJutha Mala Au - Context

The Clutha River Mata au is one of New Zealand's major rivers, in terms of its physical parameters and the regard in which it is held. It is a natlll~1 feature of signifrcance, for a number of reasons not the least its powerful volume of sWift cument and its remarkable turquoise clear waters, in stark contrast ta the semi-arid land it passes thr:Qugh. It is also admirable in its antiquity as it pre-dates the mountains it passes through - deep anteeedent gorges are typical. The river is unique in OtagQ and essential to its character. The river landscape embodjes large parts of 'the cultural history "Of Central Otago (gold mining, orcharoing, HE? development).

In a deserili?,tive manner, the river flows througt:i three maj0r topographidelimate zones. I:ts headwaters lie in the western alps with higJi rainfall and permanent snow arnd ice. It then crosses the grain of the central Otago range and basin country - gravel-filled tectonic basins alternating with schist fault block mountains studded in tors. This is the country of climatic extremes - the hottest, the coldest, the driest place in the country. The third zone is the east Otago graywacke downlands and fertile flood-prone coastal plain where the river splits into two branches, the Matau and the Koau. The river itself is a single thread channel generally, willi only one large braidett searon. Its channel is either cut in schist or greywacke bed rock or outwash gravels.

Radical landscape change has marked the more recent history of the river landscape - first burning in pr~Eufopean times changing woody cover to grassland and scrub; then conversion of indigenous cover to exotic cover and introduction of cultural elements with European exploitation along with widespread alluvial mining; followed by changes duEt to HEP development in the 1940-1990's with the construction of the Roxburgh and Clyde dams; along with development of basin floor land for orchards, vineyards and ir:iigated ~sture. Further subdivisi.on of land for intensive production and lifestYle pU!POses is aCOJi'!t«JTrlp0rary process coupled with large scale hi~teeh irrigation develgpment. i:::arge palts of tn'e riv~r~wide HEP proposals however have not been implemented, aad if they' were, 1htir-e would1Je major landscape change witt! much of the natural river and marginal features disap~aring uRder lake water.

an inventory. A spatial framework first had to be devised. The river landscape and its viewshed were divided into 9 landscape character areas (geographic areas of homogenous landscape character at a broad scale) and 9 river sections - those parts of each landscape character area within the river landscape corridor defined in the May study. The river sections were further divided into 22 reaches - a finer division based on character. A land type framework defined by Ian Lynn of Landcare Research was a major reference for developing the landscape description framework, combined with Ecological Regions and Districts. Previous landscape studies were also referred to but none on its own was considered appropriate to use.

Each river section is described in the same way. It is given a distinguishing name and its key characteristics are listed (its 'signature'). The description is broad but comprehensive covering landform, water elements, vegetation cover, natural patterns and processes, and cultural elements and patterns of use. Special sites, areas and routes are identified, gleaned from existing inventories and personal observation. A map is, prepared for each section defining the river landscape corridor and viewshed arid identifying the s.ectien anGi speeial features. Other landscape framework units that apply to each section are listed for referenee (land types, eCOlogical re~ion and districts, and landscape enaraeter areas defineti by Department Qf Conservation in its Oenservatlon Management Strategy and by ffioffa Miskell in their Otago regional landscape study).

Each landscape characterareaisection is theA desQrib~ in terms of niAe landscape quality attributes - Iilatwralness, distinctivenesstviv:idnesstmemorat)i1ity, uniqueness, legibility, coherence, complexit¥/diver;sitytmystery:, Qpern €haractel7, ep'ellf1es'S and solitutie. A lowmoderate-high rating is given fort eaCh attribute and an overrall composite ratillg is givefl. These attrib.utes are considere.d relevant to r;iver landscapes;, as measures of their; aestMetie and eXJlleriential quality. ~aturalness is explored iii 'greater depth f0r eaeh sectron ang, in a more analytical way, in a separate chapter following. This is _beeause the preservatien of natural character 0f rivers and their margins is a matter af nati01!1al importance ur'lder the resource management framework. It is also found that if a h,i-Qh degree 0f natural cI1araGter exists then many of the other attributes would be rated i:lighlyalse. Naturalness is coli1sidered a key indicator of aesthetic quality.

The aver landscape is assessed il) ,the final section of this report to determine if an¥ part af it i.$ Heserving of outstanding landsaapB status. \luJmerable landscapes are also i,deAtifted.


Lands,&ape quality was valiiable along the riv.eli' landsea~e corridmr (:see Tah).le 4.1). It was fOl!Jr:ld that a singwlar rating QGul~ I1Qt always be given, as attribute strength varied along the river laFldsGape as well as f!iOm the rive Ii to the crest of tl'leview shed. For ex-smple" r:laturalness and openness would be high through most of tffJe river landscapes but law where tflere was a built up area. This is becal:ls,e of the scale of assessmeot Assessment at the river re'aGh scale would pr:obably reso.lve this.

Few 'low' ratings were givelil. A. pattern of lanaseapequality emerged. Higner ratiFlgs were g~nerally tJiven in the gQrge and bill €9wntr:y secti~ns" and I(;)wer ratings in the more he.avily modifieii.l inter-ment~nire basin areas. It was also fQl!JAGi tHat «q.uaHties would Iile ge.Ae.rall;t higher arolJnd ,tAe river itself ,greatly influenced by the liiver} but might decrease through t1iU~ SUITmmding landscase of aeveloped1 li>asin floor then increase again on tlile -surrounding range land especially with altitude. This was expe.cted. The exception to the pattern is the upper-most two sections' in the Upper Glutha basin. The seetiona foom SaFldy Point en the district boundary to the head of Lake Dunstan are less developed and retaiA hiQher de_grees of many of the attributes. ihe presence of willows along. the riXler was found to deerease the stren,gth of serne values particularly legibil'ity -and coherence as th'ey frequently pr~yeot v.isual access to the rlver,and adjaeent af\eas:.

It mustbe noted that the quality ratings are more indicative th~n definitive espect~ll~ for the rive( lantisGape sections. The fi-eld work was rapid and in c"QmpIete- andthe time available to analyse the landscape was limited. Whilst it is not anticipated further tietaHed study; seenen by section (at a reach level) would greatly alter the findings, it is expected they would be

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refined and better explained.

Special features, sites, areas and routes were found to be a mix of natural and cultural, as expected. They were present in every section.

Natural Character

No part would have a natural character similar to that of our national park areas, for exarnpl~ Mt Aspiring Park in the river's headwaters. All river landscape areas have beer! modified mainly by extensive pastoral use (repeated burning and grazing particularly) and more intensive orcharding and pastoral use as well as HEP development and mining. A 'high' rating is therefore within the context of the river landscape. There were only diselTeet I'lodes of low degrees of natural character, at the township and dam areas. 'Mest 0f the river landscape had a moderate to high degree of natural character. Fhe tligAest degre,e.s of natural character were found in the 90r:ge and hill counfry areas, as eKpeefeet, am::! also between Sandy Point and Lake Dunstan.

The river has a natural appsaranee along almost its el'ltire lel'l!jJth, despite the fa€t it is not in its natural] state from the Hawea River cprnfluernce dawn due to IHEP developrneJilt. Qnly at the dams is hl:lman ir!terference very obvious. The lakes ase man-made~ replaeil'l!jJ the natural river, but appearance is still natural. They could egually be the result of a naturcal landslide with a dammingeffeGt, as would the Dank and Jake shore erosion and sedimentation effects.

There are a number of eultural elements within the Aver lamdsoape that detract frqr;m ~atural character. These are deseribee:l in detail' in Part 5. Twa cultural elemeAts were I'lQtoonsitlel"ied to detract significantly -tHe stone-built relicts from the 19i1:! century mining period, ama t!::le bridges. The stAnger.s of willows are conslderen to .detract from natural chal'atcer ayel'l though they are a natural self-spread element. They dominate \he river lamdseape preventing visual access and tliie presence of other riperien vegetation especially indigenous.

Conservation and extensive pastoralism land uses are found to support the l"ietention of natural char:acter to a much greater degree than more intensive land uses, as eXJ)eded. The highest degree of natural cha_racter is enjoyed in the Roxburgh Gorge river lamdseape. N,atur:al character is supported least by intensive land uses particularly those IlItilising repetitlv:e ordered layouts (eg, orcharas aAd vineyards) and comprising a high J:1l:.UiTiIl':ler. of

cultural elements. .

A range of 'tnreatsl to tlie preservation of natural character are identified. These inClude sprayin'g and b.uming of native woody vegetation and tussock cover (although the latter waule oeeur raliely now within tile river landscape), grazij';Jg, development for intensi'Le use (ctJltivation, irrigation, fenciAg late paddocks, etc), exotie tree planting (espeCially plantatians and geometric woodlots}, acces's tracking (a 'Prominent feature affecting the more natural areas) anel lnsensitive fence lines" willlfimg tree andl pest plant spread, gravel extr:atffiol'll and mining, tailing areas (balance.dagainst Meritage value), structufes acress oralong the river alilp residential develop-rnent close le the river and deVelopment of recreati.Qnal 'faeilities, TRese are actual as weH as. potential threats, In the ba'cKground of: course, there is t!'le major threat of further HEP development Which would cause inl.Uirdation of much of the river and its marginal features, as it has already (Jane irl the Cr:omwell and Roxburgh gorges.

Anal¥sts of the threats in terms (jf elements, pattemsand processes in tlie landscape enable.s ·tHe identification of processes of landscape ctnange ,tmat would support l7e.tention or preservation of natural character, through reversing the 'threat' processes. SuCh processes are that increase the presence of indigenous species, those that achieve a mare dblerS'e ral'i'lge· of species (both flora and fauna); those that achieve more. natural p.attems of diStr:lbutip~1 of e,leliT:lel:'lts; ;and tRose, that limit the introduction of cultural eleliflel'lts' ·aot! aGiivities into tt.le landsC8J!>e ..


In $ummary".pfQcesses of landscape change that support the .retention and enhanc'ement of natural character include:

acquisitian of land or retention of Crown land for nature conservation andecolog'ical , restaration

Vulme.rab1e la'Ddseap.e$ .ar:etl1ose .Iamdscapes that h.ave high value,s the loss (l)f WHiCh would be signifibamt; combined with a landscape Gharaeter that is not capable of r:ea,iilily absoi1Jrn.g change fl)1G):e Ratl!u:al opefl landseapes fer example); sndpre,ssure for development. Where these thnee faetsITsexist, lan1i1.S€SfJes are vulnerable.

VlJln~r,able river landscapes are coFlsidered to be:

the Up-Qer Clutha sections between the, heaq of Lake Dunstan and Sapdy Peiot where ther:e is ttlreat to lanasClipe values from sub€lhrisiot'l at; land into lifestyle bloCks amd fram irrigatiIDIfl dev:elepment

2 'thesectiQr:'l fmm Rigney to Beaumont . Here the threat is loss of the kanuka woodlands and fQrest remnants dl:l.e to sprraying an~ graz,ing; planta(iC1mforeslry; and the upgrading af, the Millennium track; all of whid1 WGulClt significantly detfaGl from natural ooara€ter.

T Q plated: tnese vulner:able laMlS~llles 'ar:lo »reser:ve tt:leir values, measures will. tile required to ool'ltrel and direct developmel1lt and .Iand use.

It is beyond tOe scope Of this r.epert to 'spetiffically set Qutsuch measures but sqggestions are made in Part 5. These relat.e to coFltl'0l and gui~anQe of swbdlvi'sion for tifeswle "locks, irrigated detlelapmel7lt,past0ral >development by spraYing, plantation forestry and level of develaramel"ll of recreational fadli.ties.

~tltstanding Natural Landscapes The fiAal section of this repo.rt evaluated the rriver lam(tseape 10 detemlineif any parB deserved outstanding natural landscape status. Eight sections or plart seetlens were found to have autstaRdir:lg natural lands.cape value. These w~re:

• the Upper Clutha river terrace rands



• the Cromwell Valley outwash terraces (all. four of them)

• the lower Dunstan Range slopes, Bendigo area, head of lake Dunstan and Mahaka

Katia reserve

• the Cromwell Gorge • " the Roxburgh Gorge

• sections of the river landscape at Roxburgh, Island Hill, Dumbarton Rock

• the Rigney-Craig Flat area

• the Beaumont Gorge

The relil1.aiRing sections of the riverare considered to have 'Significant landscape' status, for wHicb specific: landscepe pollcies an(ij rules should be ciev.ejepea. The river Itself is irrefutably a significant feature and because its values eannet ae separated from its landscape .setting - a theme discussed in the first study - it is the river landscape (the river plus its primary setting) that is the unit of consideration.

This assessment has a moderate degree of concurrence withl [!)rev:ious assessments (refer the seeend stu'dy report). No assessment of this type has b-:e'en salified aut -at this level over the entire river. The most relevant study is the Central Otago Rurral Landscape Study being undertaken concurrently by LA4 and for whicM the findings are net yet ~rnGwlll beyond a preliminary level. That study agreed that the river was a s'ignifiCCInt feature, and there is agreement over outstanding areas. This study identifies further areas af outstanl!ii!1Q value. The 19,aa Bennett study did not assess landscape for outstanding value (as it pre-dated the RMA) but it did carry out a detailed quality attribute assessment over the river dowrnstream af the RQxburgh Dam. This study's findings concur with assessments if! tnat study ,generally. TlieQtago Regional landscape study did not identify any part of the river corridor landscape as outstanding at a regional level except those parts of the Old Man Range that fall into it.

A verbal description of outstanding areas was given in tfle Isthmus study and this study concurs with the areas listed.

The delineation of areas of outstanding natural river landseape is GJelib"erately map~ed at 1.:250 000,. There is not sufficient informatiDn to' tie' more [!)cecise aaout a boumdary and such a boundary may not readily exist "as landscapes,e.f differemt character ten€! to Blend info each other. It is also possible tl')ere will be outsla~ding' landscapes in the Mimter'land iderfitified in the LA4 lar;1dscape stud9 that wiU De contiguous. It is expected that further study of the sections identified at this broad scale as. beir'lgautstaAdinQ will enat>le a mar;>'-able line to be detertnimed, suitatlle f$f tr~nslatiomjDto (ijistriGt. plannir;1g riT:laJlls ·an(ij pali€;y:


To conclude, this study has developed an understandirrg of what the riYel' landseape is and haw it is. ,changing. It proy,i~es a spatial framewor:1f f",1' analysi.s an~d assessment that is capable of being fur1:heT refililed. It provides a br&ad scoping of the lani:tsc-ape management issues at staRe with respect to natural character arnC!l, by inference, to landscape q~.ality. Owtstanding landscape is iC!lentified. This s.twiy is a .spring board for more detailed investig~tic)fts into selected seefions.