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definition and description

A Report for the Clutha Parkway Steering Group

May 2007

Anne Steven
Registered Landscape Architect
definition and description
May 2007

CONTENTS page no.


1 Concept of a River Landscape

1.1 The Clutha Mata Au Parkway ------------------------------ 2

1.2 The Nature of a River Landscape ------------------------- 2
1.3 Defining the River Landscape ------------------------------ 4

2 Designing a River Landscape Model for

the Clutha Mata Au River

2.1 Model Needs ---------------------------------------------------- 1

2.2 A River Landscape Model ----------------------------------- 11
2.3 Description of a River Landscape Model ---------------- 12
2.4 Application of the Model ------------------------------------- 12

3 The Clutha River Landscape

3.1 The Clutha River Realm ------------------------------------- 14

3.2 The Clutha River Landscape ------------------------------- 14

3.21 Introduction ------------------------------------------------------ 15

3.22 Description of the Clutha River Landscape -------------- 26
Lake Wanaka to Cardrona River ----------------------- 26
Cardrona River to Devils Nook ------------------------- 27
Devils Nook to Lake Dunstan --------------------------- 27
Lake Dunstan–Bendigo to Cromwell ------------------ 27
Cromwell to Clyde ----------------------------------------- 28
Clyde to Alexandra ---------------------------------------- 29
Alexandra to Roxburgh Dam ---------------------------- 29
Roxburgh Dam to Roxburgh ---------------------------- 29
Roxburgh to Island Block -------------------------------- 30
Island Block to Beaumont -------------------------------- 31
Beaumont to Rongahere --------------------------------- 31
Rongahere to Tuapeka Mouth -------------------------- 32
Tuapeka Mouth to Balcutha ----------------------------- 32
Balclutha to Molyneux Bay ------------------------------ 33

This report documents a landscape analysis

that sets out to define the river landscape
corridor of the Clutha Mata Au River from its
source to the sea at Molyneux Bay (Pacific

It is one of several inter-related landscape

studies that contribute to te early stages of
planning the Clutha River Parkway.

The report covers the following:

• introduction of the Clutha River
Parkway concept
• the concept of a river landscape
as a special kind of landscape
• approaches to defining a river
• a model for defining the river
landscape of the Clutha River
• description of the Clutha River
landscape corridor (written,
mapped and photographically

It must be noted that the river landscape corridor that is described and mapped is not
completely accurate. The survey work for the entire river, which is some 322km long
(with both sides requiring survey), was undertaken in a short time period and there is
no easy public access to parts of the river. Not all parts of the river landscape were
visited nor were all perspectives considered in the field.
It is expected the position of the outer edge of the corridor may be altered as sections
of the river are studied in more detail. The parkway concept includes the creation of a
multi-purpose trail the length of the river (on one or both sides as practicable and
desirable). As the actual location of this trail is determined the spatial extent of the
river landscape corridor will be confirmed.
It is anticipated that the river landscape corridor that is identified in this study will only
be changed to a minor extent however as sections of the river are studied in detail
over time.

1 The Concept of a River Landscape

1.1 The Clutha Mata Au Parkway

The vision for the Clutha Mata Au River Parkway is to protect and improve the
natural, recreational and cultural values of the Clutha Mata Au river environment,
through the establishment of a Parkway. The holistic approach seeks not only to
protect the values of the river body itself (in-stream values) but the whole river
environment, the “experiential corridor” related to the river.

The Parkway is envisioned as a physical corridor of land with the river at its centre.
This corridor encapsulates two concepts:

• the creation of a linear park for public recreational use and access, with a
multi-purpose trail similar perhaps to the Otago Rail Trail
• a landscape management corridor for the protection of the values of the
Clutha River, as a natural entity

The linear public park will be the core of the wider landscape management corridor.
The objective for the landscape management corridor will be to preserve the natural
character of the corridor in accordance with section 6a of the Resource Management
Act. This does not necessarily preclude development nor is it intended to prevent any
kind of landscape change; but rather to direct landscape change in a manner that
preserves and enhances the natural character of the landscape. It is about informed
and careful decision making.

The spatial definition of the landscape management corridor is an important and

necessary task in the early stage of the development of the Parkway as an entity.
The process is somewhat circular, as the actual location of the trail will be a
determinant of the landscape management corridor to some degree. The overarching
intent of this project however is to protect the values of the river and its margins as an

1.2 The Nature of a River Landscape

A river landscape is a recognisable and special kind of landscape in its own right
(Swanwick 1997; Litton 1974). Other similar types of landscapes are coastal
landscapes and valley glacier landscapes. These landscapes are defined by being
linear in form with a discreet linear natural feature at their core - a river; the sea-land
interface; valley glacier.
Litton describes a riverscape as being a natural axis within a visual corridor around
which other elements of the landscape are displaced.

Many landscapes owe their special quality to the presence of large bodies of water
(Swanwick 1997). River valley landscapes are often a highly distinctive type of
landscape different from “dry” landscapes. River valleys are often the key landscape
types in protected natural areas, and often the focus of green corridors.

From a review of studies describing and assessing landscape and recreational values
of rivers (eg, Tunstall et al 2004 and 1997; Lucas 2003 and 1989; Smale 1992
Mosley 1989) it is clear that the perceived qualities of a river, as an entity, depend as
much upon the surrounding landscape as they do on the features of the river itself.

Jones and Jones (1973) described a river as being “considerably more than water
flowing in a channel”.

“Quality of setting is of paramount importance for the enjoyment of a walk or a tramp

[along a river]…to thoroughly nourish and uplift the soul…” (Wilson 2004).

Four of the seven criteria used by Egarr and Egarr in their recreational/scenic river
survey related to factors in the surrounding landscape (vegetation; landforms and
geology; views out; proximity of cultural elements). Mosley concluded in his scenic
preference studies that it unrealistic to divorce a river from its environment when
deciding on management. He advocated that at least as much attention must be
given to managing the landscape through which a river passes as to the river itself.
When NWASCO were endeavouring to identify nationally significant rivers in 1986,
they found that the assessors were giving as much attention to the surrounding
landscape as the river itself, and they found the criteria for assessment difficult to
work with as it was related to in-stream values only.

The Maori view of rivers is holistic; it does not separate the water body from its
surroundings. Maori see rivers as an integral part of the living mother earth,
Papatuanuku; they are the alimentary canals supplying nourishment to her and to all
living things (MFE 1998). A natural relationship between land and water is important
to Maori.

While there is no doubt that a river landscape is a continuum – in this study from the
source at Lake Wanaka to the Pacific Ocean at Molyneux Bay; and that the values of
a river lie as much in its landscape setting as between the banks, the cross-sectional
extent of the corridor must be clearly defined. The key land areas for management
must be identified.
The critical issue is how far back from the river's edge do you need to go, in terms of
managing the landscape about the river to protect the river's values; to protect and
enhance people's experience of the river; to achieve:
“the preservation of the natural character of... rivers and their margins and
their protection from inappropriate subdivision, use and development”
in s. 6 (a) of the Resource Management Act 1991.

From many places on or close

to the Clutha River, there is
an extensive view to the
distant skylines of the
surrounding ; yet it would be
nonsensical to include all that
land that is seen in a
landscape management
corridor for the river.

How far away from the river body

do you need to go to
protect the natural character of
the river and its margins?

It is important that the river landscape is carefully defined for three reasons. If the
definition is too narrow, it is possible important landscape factors affecting the river

experience are missed. Secondly, if the definition is too wide, then the study may get
drawn into wider landscape issues, become too unwieldy, and lose focus on the river.
Thirdly, it is likely that some kind of zoning or designation through the regional and
district plan will be the main instrument for managing the landscape, and this requires
drawing lines on a map.

1.3 Defining the River Landscape

Various landscape studies were reviewed to see how the river landscape has been
defined. All approaches were different but they can be classified into different types of
approach. Most were based on visual definition (what could be seen) and most were
based on viewpoints on the river surface or its banks. Some studies did not attempt to
define the river landscape in a cross dimensional way, focusing on classifying the
river into linear sections instead.

Types of Approaches

Biophysical – catchment and land systems approaches

The river landscape is divided into units primarily on the basis of hydrological
catchments and landform types.
Blakely 1992 in his work on the Kawarau River Water Conservation Order started
with a definition of the entire hydrological catchment for the river and its tributaries
and divided it into catchment units, largely on a sub-catchment basis but also in some
places according to differences in landscape character.
Lucas 2003 in her work for the Rangitata River Water Conservation Order divided the
river lengthwise into sections according to land type data. The outer edges to the side
were not defined, although some sections appeared to have a visual catchment

Visual Catchment and Visual Character

In this kind of approach all that can be seen from the river is mapped as a 'visual
catchment' (Bennett 1984; Lamb et al 1996, MOWD 1983). Swanwick 1997 described
this as the “macro landscape”. This whole area is then divided into units on the basis
of homogenous visual landscape character or into sub-visual catchments - landscape
character areas, units or zones. These units were therefore often large, going to sky
lines. Bennett further divided the river and its banks into sections (based on changes
in channel width) but these had no cross-dimensional definition. The Hawkesbury-
Nepean study by Lamb et al included significant visual features seen with the river
and important visual backdrops to the river in views looking at it.
Egarr and Egarr in their river assessments in 1979 and 1981 referred to the visual
catchment but did not explicitly define a cross-sectional dimension.
The MOWD studies on the Clutha River (Emmitt and Turpen 1979/1980) used the
adjacent highways as the outer limit, an arbitrary line in a landscape sense but
perhaps a useful boundary in some circumstances.

Jones and Jones developed a more complex and explicit framework in the 1970's,
initially in their Upper Susitna River Study, Alaska 1975.
The model is hierarchical both across the river and up and down the river.
At the broadest level, the 'view shed' or 'visual domain' of the river is mapped – all that
land that is seen from the river and its banks. The hydrological catchment is also
mapped. These together define the 'realm' of the river – the full territory that affects
the river.
The realm is then divided into 'regions' based on homogenous physical character
(similar to landscape character areas).
At a more detailed level, the land viewed from the river surface as far back as the first
topographical crest or other major visual interruption (eg., forest) forms the 'primary

view shed zone' (right and left) also termed the 'viewing corridor' (see Fig. 1). Land
that became visible from up on the banks or from a higher water level in this case (as
the river might be flooded) was termed 'supporting viewshed'. Together these two
viewsheds comprise the 'coterminous viewshed' – that visible terrain contiguous with
the river.
Other land visible from the river or riverbanks but not contiguous is termed secondary
viewshed if within the hydrological catchment or tertiary viewshed if in another

Fig.1 Model of River Landscape – Jones and Jones 1975


Blakely P 1992 (unpublished)

- Landscape Evaluation of the Kawarau River and its Tributaries
Expert Evidence given on behalf of the Department of Conservation
in relation to Water Conservation Order Planning Tribunal Hearing

Department of Urban Affairs and Planing (Australia) 1996

- Scenic Quality – Hawkesbury-Nepean Quality Study
a report based on consultancy work for the department by Dr R Lamb and Travers

Egarr G and J, McKay J, 1979

- 64 New Zealand Rivers

Egarr G D and J H, 1981

- NZ Recreational River Survey Part 1 Methods and Conclusions
Water and Soil Misc. Pub. 13 MOWD

Jones and Jones 1975

- Upper Susitna River – An Inventory and Evaluation of the Environmental Aesthetic
and Recreational Resources

Jones and Jones 1973

- The Nooksack Plan

Lower Clutha Hydro-Electric Investigations Landscape Study, Stage 1 and 2, 1984

- Environmental Design Section Ministry of Works and Development (Study Team:
Earl Bennett, David McKenzie, Ray McTeigue).

Litton, Tetlow, Sorenson and Beatty 1974
- Water and Landscape – An Aesthetic Overview of the Role of Water in the
Lucas D 2003 (unpublished)
- Expert Evidence given on behalf of the Department of Conservation
in relation to Water Conservation Order Hearing for the Rangitata River

Lucas D 1989 (unpublished)

- Expert Evidence given on behalf of the Department of Conservation
in relation to Water Conservation Order Hearing for the Buller River

Ministry for the Environment 1998

- Flow Guidelines for In-stream Values

Ministry of Works and Development (Milligan G and Ross L) 1983

- Kawarau River Landscape Survey

Ministry of Works and Development (D. Turpen) 1980

- Landscape Survey Report – Queensberry Power Project

Ministry of Works and Development (D. Turpen, T.C. Emmitt) 1979

- Landscape Survey Report – Luggate Power Project

Mosley 1989
- Perceptions of New Zealand River Scenery
in NZ Geographer 45 1 1989 pp 2-13

NWASCO, 1986
- A list of Rivers and Lakes deserving inclusion in a Schedule of Protected Waters: A
report of the Protected Waters Assessment Committee, 1986
(Water and Soil Misc. Pub No. 97).ed Grindell D S, Guest P A

Smale, S 1992 (unpublished)

- The Whanganui River Landscape: An Assessment
Expert Evidence given on behalf of the Department of Conservation
in relation to Water Conservation Order Planning Tribunal Hearing

Swanwick C, 1997
- Landscape Assessment of Fresh Waters
in Freshwater Quality: Defining the Indefinable eds. Boon P J and Howell D L

Tunstall S et al 2004
- Public Perception of Freshwater Quality with particular Reference to Rivers in
England and Wales
in Freshwater Quality: Defining the Indefinable eds. Boon P J and Howell D L

Tunstall S et al 1997
- Children’s Perceptions of River Landscapes and Play: What Children’s Photographs
in Landscape Research Vol 29 No 2 pp 19\81-204

Wilson J 2004
- Speech Notes of an address at the launch of the Living Rivers Campaign, Hamilton, 15 Dec
2004 (go to

2 Designing a River Landscape Model for the Clutha Mata Au River

2.1 Model Needs

A model for defining the Clutha River landscape needs to:

• have a strong areal basis, to clearly define an area for active

landscape management

• needs to be applicable to the different kinds of landscape the

river passes through – open plain, terraced lands, hill country or
downlands; flat bottomed valley in hill ranges; gorge; natural
landscape; intensively productive landscape; and urban

• embraces the landscape experience of the river in full

• reflects the river ecosystem (biophysical basis)

The last two points need expanding upon.

The Clutha River passes through a settled landscape occupied by farms, horticultural
enterprises, lifestyle developments and small towns; and which is traversed by State
highways and a number of local roads. There are many public recreational areas
taking in views of the river including elevated views. The river itself is widely used for
recreational activities.

Because of this context (compared to, for example, a wilderness context as in the
Upper Susitna study; or an urban context) there are four different perspectives that
need to be considered when determining the appropriate landscape management
area, and they relate mainly to the human experience of the river:

1. The landscape experienced from positions on the water or water’s edge

Many studies describe and assess landscape from this perspective. This is a
very important viewpoint but from this perspective on the Clutha River, the
view is often very limited by stringers of mature willows extending for
kilometers, or by high banks. Experience is restricted to the river body itself,
sometimes not even its banks are visible and the trees form the skyline.
The trees could die or be removed in the future, bringing a much wider
landscape into view. Taller structures on unseen land beyond could
potentially affect the experience of the river from this perspective.
Knowledge of the landscape beyond sight may influence the experience of the
river, and smell and sound may also contribute.

“Visual dimensions alone do not adequately address the experience of a

place” (Lucas 1989).

2. The landscape experienced from positions near the river, with views of the
river (often elevated)

It is not physically possible often to walk/bike/horse ride along the edge of a

river. The practical and preferred route may well be along the edge of a
nearby terrace. Viewpoints slightly above and set back from the river enjoy
excellent views of it in its wider landscape context and would be a preferred
view. This is the case with many parts of the Clutha River. The river can be
seen in relation to the various landforms formed by the river over time, and in
relation to patterns of vegetation.

This perspective of the river is considered the most important. It takes into
account the landscape experience of the wide range of land-based
recreational users and people who simply come to enjoy the river or view it
form nearby popular public places. With the future trail, this perspective will
become even more the dominant consideration. The landscape experience
from this perspective embraces that from the river itself.
In some cases, the river body may not be visible. Its presence however may
be indicated through sound, riparian vegetation, and by the visible presence
of fluvially-shaped landforms.

From these perspectives, in terraced lands the crest of the furthest or largest
scarp cut by the river on either side is likely to define the outer edge of the
‘river landscape’, even though more distant hill and range country may also be
seen. In hill country the visible crest of the main valley side slope would be the
limit. The view from preferred routes and vantage points along both sides of
the river needs to be assessed in order to comprehensively define the river

In open lands, such as an outwash plain, the defining element might be a

distinct change in land use; intensive development and built up areas (a
complex of trees and buildings); a road; or simply distance. Mature vegetation
(willows, broom and gorse) confines views from the river and its close
environs in many places at present; however vegetation should not as a
general rule, be used to define the outer edge of the river landscape, as it is
impermanent. Landform is the preferred element for defining the river
It is important to include the air space behind and above landform crests that
define the primary setting, as tall trees and structures on the surfaces behind
can protrude above and become part of the river landscape.

3. Distant Views of the River

View from Clyde Dam Lookout

Rivers may be seen from more distant and often elevated locations within the
viewshed of the river, such as on nearby highways and public walking tracks
and reserves. It is likely these are the viewpoints from which the greatest
numbers of people observe the river.
In these views, the river is likely to be viewed together with the river-
generated landforms of its setting, as in two above but from a wider
perspective. Broader scale vegetation patterns related to the topography
influenced by the river are also likely to be perceived. Willows along the
Clutha both indicate the presence of and prevent views of the river.

Landforms originating from other physical processes may also be linked

visually with the river and perceived as part of the river landscape.

External views of the river environment (if not the river itself) may be
continuous (such as where the road runs alongside the river, eg, downstream
of Millers Flat or alongside Lake Dunstan) or they may be discreet framed
views eg, of Lake Roxburgh from SH8.

4. A Natural Context for a Natural Feature

A river such as the Clutha is a large natural feature. If it is to retain its value as
a natural entity, it deserves a biophysical setting of appropriate scale. This
maintains the integrity of natural landscape and that of the river itself.

New Zealand rivers are often set within – and have created – a landscape that
is highly expressive of its formative processes. Suites of river terraces; old
channels and floodplains, and steep-sided valleys can be directly associated
with the river that formed them. They go together. Vegetation patterns can
enhance this relationship.

In a biophysical sense, the river

landscape is nested within the wider
landscape. It is defined by the limits of
the fluvial landforms and riparian
vegetation. This distinction might be
strong in some places and weaker in

This perspective is most strongly

perceived from more distant elevated
viewpoints eg, Flat Top Hill; the Old Man
Range; Pisa Range (publicly accessible
conservation areas).

River landscape – that part of the landscape about a river that is directly
associated with the river in a experiential and a biophysical sense; and
whose character directly influences perceptions of the river environment.
Spatially it is a corridor of land of variable width with the river as a central
unifying linear element.

The term ‘river landscape’ is synonymous with the term “experiential

corridor” used in the Parkway vision.

2.2 A River Landscape Model

The model chosen for this study is based on the Jones and Jones model. Fig. 2
illustrates the model used:

Fig. 2. River Landscape Model

2.3 Description of River Landscape Model

realm At the biggest scale, the 'realm' of the river will be defined – the hydrological
catchment and the viewshed.
The viewshed is all the landscape visible from the river or preferred routes
and vantage points along the river. It is comprised of the primary setting and
the supporting setting.

landscape The area can be divided into landscape character areas – areas of broadly
character homogenous landscape character. Land types will form the basis of this
areas division.

primary In the landscape viewed from preferred routes and vantage points along the
setting river, the 'primary setting' is essentially that part of the landscape between the
river and the first main topographical crest or other permanent visual barrier.
This would be a river terrace riser; a hard rock hillside to the sky line or
notable crest; or the edge of a built-up area. This area is usually contiguous
with the river margin but not always - prominent hill slopes seen as a near
visual backdrop may be included.
Vegetation is not desirable as a rule to use as the outer edge of the promary
settign as it is impermanent. An exception would be self-sustaining native
vegetation, as this is likely to remain in the long term. In an open plains or
gently undulating low relief landscape, a distance of 300-500m is proposed as
the limit of the river landscape. This will vary according to the context.

The primary setting encompasses the landscape important to views from on

the river, and it is likely to also encompass the appropriate biophysical
context. The primary setting will be expanded where the biophysical context
requires it.

The primary setting then is that part of the landscape that is directly
associated with the river in a visual sense and is important in shaping the
experience of the river. It is that part of the landscape that needs active
management to protect the natural character of the river and its margins. This
is essentially the ‘river landscape’.

supporting Visible landscape beyond the primary setting is termed the 'supporting
setting setting'. No distinction is made between secondary and tertiary viewshed in
this study however.

channel In futuer more detailedriver landscape studies, a 'channel setting' may be

setting useful to employ. This would be just the river and its banks.

sections, In a long profile sense, the river can be divided into sections, reaches and
reaches, places. These are distinguished by changes in perceived character of the
places river and its setting together, at an ever decreasing scale.

2.4 Application of the Model

The purpose of this study is to identify the realm (watershed plus viewshed) and the
primary setting, or river landscape corridor, for the Clutha River from its source at
Lake Wanaka to its mouth at Molyneux Bay (Pacific Ocean). River sections are also

A three stage method was employed to define the river landscape corridor using this

(i) Desktop Study

A desk top study on 1:50 000 and 1:500 000 topographic base maps was undertaken
initially to identify the likely primary setting and viewshed. Photos taken from the river
previously, and topographic data were referred to. This process gained familiarisation
with the river landscape and identified areas of uncertainty to be checked in the field.
The watershed was also mapped.

(ii) Field Work

Field work was then carried out over seven days through first the Central Otago
District then the section of river from Lake Wanaka to the Central Otago District
boundary, and finally the lower section of the river in the Clutha district, over the
periods March-April 2006 and March-May 2007. The river was visited at various
places along both sides, where there was easy public access. In some places it was
possible to bike along the river; in other places a road ran close by the river providing
more or less continuous connection with it although the willow stringers often
prevented views of the river itself.

At each point of visit, the enclosing topographic crest was marked on a 1:50 000 map;
and the entire viewshed noted. The information gained from these places was
extrapolated to those sections of the river where access was not possible. Framed
views from the adjacent roads were recorded as well.

This ground based field work was augmented by a full set of oblique colour aerial
photographs taken the length of the river at altitude of around 3000-4000 feet.

It was intended to visit elevated public viewpoints to identify the river landscape from
this perspective however the short time available for field work precluded this
analysis. It was considered however that the aerial photographs would provide a
good substitute view, as the viewpoint is not dissimilar to those from places like the
top of the Old Man Range or the Pisa Range.

(iii) Desktop Work

The river landscape corridor – the primary setting – was then mapped on the 1:50 000
base maps using the field notes and an extensive photographic record. These are
Maps 1–16, included in the last section of this report.

The corridor was also recorded on a set of oblique aerials covering all sections of the

(iv) Land Type Study

A land type study was commissioned from Landcare Research to provide information
on river landforms to address the biophysical perspective. The primary setting

already mapped includes the landforms directly associated with the river (floodplains
and recent alluvial terraces). There are in fact relatively few areas of recent alluvial
landforms along the Clutha River. In most places the River is cut into older materials
such as Pleistocene outwash plain (upper Clutha); Paleozoic metamorphic schist
rock (upper and middle reaches as far down as Tuapeka Mouth); and ancient
Permian greywacke (from Tuapeka Mouth to Balcutha). The most extensive area of
recent alluvial landform is the river mouth area between Balclutha and the sea where
the river meanders across a wide floodplain.

It must be noted that the mapped areas defined as the river

landscape corridor are not wholly accurate. The level of analysis
is coarse, based on discontinuous field survey work along the
river, over a short period of time. Ideally the whole of the river
would be walked along on both sides. It is expected that this will
be done in due course and the mapped corridor will be refined as
each section of the river is dealt with in more detail. In particular, it
will be refined when the location of the trail is determined as this
will be a key viewpoint from which the river landscape will be


3.1 The Clutha River Realm

The Clutha River realm is comprised of the watershed and the viewshed.

The watershed (hydrological catchment) is shown on Fig. 3, the Watershed Map.

The Clutha River catchment is a very large catchment, the largest in New Zealand.
The river itself is 322 km long and the catchment is 20.5m ha. The catchment
reaches almost from coast to coast and stretches from Mts Maitland, Pearson and
Strachan at the head of the Hunter Valley in the north at latitude 43 degrees south 50’
(the same latitude as the end of Lake Pukaki ) to latitude 46 degree 20’ south at its
mouth in Molyneux Bay not far north of the Catlins. However it only drops 277m in
altitude from its mainstem source at Lake Wanaka to its mouth in the Pacific Ocean.

Lake Wanaka fed by the Makarora and Matukituki Rivers is the main source of water
as well as the origin of the river. Other major catchments are those of the Hawea,
Kawarau (Lake Wakatipu, Shotover, Nevis and Arrow sub-catchments), Cardrona,
Lindis, Manuherikia, Teviot, and Pomahaka rivers.

The viewshed (primary setting plus supporting setting) for the Clutha River is mapped
on Figs. 4 and 5. This is the extent of visible landscape viewed from places on, at, or
very near the river. It includes landscape outside of the watershed. Large parts of the
watershed are not part of the viewshed (eg, Lake Wakatipu and
Shotover/Arrow/Nevis/Kawarau catchments; the upper Lindis and Manuherikia; the

The viewshed is largely clearly defined by the crests of nearby mountain ranges or
hill country close to or containing the river. There are some areas where visibility
extends into the far distance and it is difficult to define the viewshed with certainty
(eg, north of Alexandra in the Manuherikia Valley, or up the Cardrona valley).

In some places the viewshed is limited in extent, such as the Cromwell Gorge and the
stretch between Millers Flat and Tuapeka Mouth, where the river winds through high
steep hill country. From Tuapeka Mouth to Balclutha the low crests of the rolling hill
country through which the river flows form a near skyline. In these places, the
viewshed is often less than 10km across and can be as little as 2-3km across.

In other parts of the river corridor the viewshed is extensive, extending to the crests of
distant mountain ranges. In the Upper Clutha basin, peaks near the Main Divide
(such as Black Peak, Mt Alta and Minaret Peaks) and the mountains overlooking
Lakes Hawea and Wanaka define the viewshed; as well as the Pisa and Dunstan
Mountains to the south and east. The viewshed is 40-50km wide between these main
enclosing ranges. In the Cromwell valley, the St Bathans Range forms a distant
backdrop to the east; opposed visually by the peaks of the Hector Mountains some
85km away to the southwest, seen over the top of the Old Woman Range.
In these situations there are low lying pockets of land on the floors of the basins and
valleys enclosed by these mountain ranges that are not part of the viewshed.

3.2 The Clutha River Landscape

3.21 Introduction

The river landscape corridor is generally the primary setting, but in some places parts
of the supporting setting are also considered to be part of the river landscape

because of the importance of their contribution to the perceived natural character of
the river. In other places, not all of the primary setting is considered to be river
landscape, where the first crest is too far away.

Throughout its length, the Clutha River1 is variable in its river landscape both in
extent and character. This is due to the variety of regional landscape it passes
through, including both wide and narrow tectonic basins, mountain ranges and hill
country (in antecedent gorges), and hard-rock downlands; and a variety of more
localised landforms – moraine, outwash terraces and plains, alluvial floodplains, strath
terraces (a valley floor terrace of bedrock with very thin loess covering), and hard-
rock hill and mountain slopes with bluffs, isolated hills and rock outcrops in the river
(the ‘rock gardens’ around Beaumont are highly distinctive). Landuse also varies
along the river including conservation and crown land, grazing properties ranging
from extensive sheep stations in a more natural landscape to more intensive highly
developed sheep and beef farms, dairy farms, orchard and vineyard areas, and there
are a few nodes of built-up areas including residential use (the main use), commercial
and industrial uses.

There are eight main types of river landscape containing or related to the Clutha

1 Built Up Landscape

2 Open Riverbed Landscape

3 Terraced Landscape

4 Downlands Landscape

5 Moraine Landscape

6 Hill Range Landscape

7 Mountain Range Landscape (antecedent gorge)

8 Levee Landscape

9 Highway Views

10 Backdrop Landscape

1 Built Up Landscape

The ‘river edge’ of urban areas such as Albert Town, Cromwell, Clyde, Alexandra,
Roxburgh and Balcutha define the outer edge of the river landscape. There is
typically a narrow strip of land between housing and gardens and the river, often
developed as esplanade reserve with parkland and paths. The interface between
reserve and built up area is highly variable, sometimes dominated by weeds,
discarded materials, rubbish and backs of buildings; sometimes attactively developed
and well maintained ‘front’ gardens. Sometimes there is a fence; sometimes there is
no barrier.

The term ‘river’ includes lakes Dunstan and Roxburgh.

The river elevations of buildings
and their gardens, parking areas,
fences, etc, facing the river are
considered to be part of the river

Roxburgh (looking upstream true right)

2 Open Riverbed Landscape

At the head of Lake Dunstan the Clutha River has a wide gravel bed with multiple
channels, flanked by wide low alluvial terraces.
It is not easy to define the river landscape here but it is taken to be the river edge of
adjacent terraces.

Clutha Riverbed near Lindis River confluence

3 Terraced Landscape (alluvial, outwash, strath)

The river is incised in extensive open outwash terraces and alluvial floodplains in
many places. In the Upper Clutha these tend to be in flights; further downriver there
are usually only one or two terrace levels. The extent of the river landscape and the
type of edge is variable.
In some places a whole suite of terraces is considered to be the river landscape,
where smaller terrace forms are contained by a dominant higher background riser;
and the landscape has homogenous natural character. The landscape contains all
the forms created by the river. The upper Clutha river valley between the Albert Town
area and the Red Bridge is a good example.
The best place to walk/bike the river corridor and enjoy the river from is along the
edge of terraces next to the river or perhaps one terrace back.

Clutha River terraces near Poplar Beach (downstream view)

From these perspectives, the crest of the large outside terrace riser forms a clear
horizon ‘containing’ the river landscape, but the outer edge of the river landscape is
actually considered to be some 100-300m beyond the crest, as tall trees and
structures placed on the edge of the upper terrace surface are visually part of the
river landscape and can affect the perception of natural character.

View to back terrace looking upstream at Sandy Point, showing how a structure on the top
surface affects the perception of the natural character of the landscape.

Where there is a narrow bench terrace the back riser is a strong edge to the river landscape

In some places, the river is incised in a single surface with a steep bank and no or
only a very narrow and discontinuous terrace adjacent to the river. It is easiest to walk
along the edge of this surface looking down on the river and this is also the best place
to enjoy the river from as a natural landscape feature. The surface may stretch more
than 1km before another terrace riser or hillside is reached. The first topographical
crest is too far away to be useful in defining the outer edge of the river landscape. In
these situations the river landscape is said to ‘run out’ at a distance of 300m or so.

Extensive outwash plain downstream of Sandy Point – the easiest and most desirable path of
travel is along the edge of the surface overlooking the river; and there are long views back to
the background hills.

Wide alluvial plains and strath terraces flank the river for long stretches downstream
of Roxburgh and again in the Clutha district between Tuapeka Mouth and Balclutha.
The landscape is typically more fragmented with shelter belts but the same 300m
limit is applied. In some areas the land gently undulates and rises away from the
river, merging with low relief downlands. The outer edge of the river landscape here
is considered to extend to up 500m on these inclined surfaces, although on strath
terraces low rocky rises and minor terracing form closer topographical crests.

Wide alluvial plains flank the river near Clydevale

In these situations, a major road forms a useful boundary if it is at least 150-200m

away from the river.

A road forms a logical outer edge to the river landscape on a wide plain at Beaumont (river is
marked by line of willows in image)

4 Downlands Landscape

In the Clutha district, the regional landscape between Tuapeka Mouth and Balclutha
is hard rock downlands. The Clutha River occupies a structural depression in the
downlands. In places the the rounded downlands fall straight to the river with little or
no alluvial terrace adjacent; in other places there is a long narrow alluvial plain. The
crest of the downlands seen above the river forms a clear outer edge to the river
landscape and encloses the riparian floodplain terraces.

Downlands form a clear horizon (viewshed plus edge of river landscape) just upstream of

Downlands enclose narrow terraces and contain the river landscape near Tuapeka Mouth

5 Moraine Landscape

The Clutha River flows through deep moraine deposits at its outlet at Lake Wanaka.
There are narrow floodplains alongside and just above the river in places but often
there is only a high steep bank. As with the single surface terraces, it is easiest, and
most rewarding, to walk along the top of the bank. The river landscape stretches
away from the river but as moraine is undulating to hummocky, the outer edge of the
river landscape can be defined by the crests of low rises in the moraine closer to the

View downstream from the Outlet on true left, with rolling moraine terrain stretching away to
the left

The moraine drops steeply in a sheer slope to the river and the easiest path is along the top of
the bank, with extensive views across adjoining land. View looking downstream near Albert
Town on true left.

6 Hill Range Landscape

The Clutha River flows through sections of steep hard rock schist-greywacke hill
country between Roxburgh and Balclutha – the Roxburgh Gorge (see below), the
Beaumont Gorge, the Rongahere Gorge.
The crest of high valley
side slopes enclosing the
river form the outer edges
of the river landscape, and
are usually the limit of the
view shed as well. Narrow
floodplain terraces are
present in places, and
isolated conical hills are a
feature of the Roxburgh
and Beaumont Gorges.
These are wholly enclosed
within the river landscape.

Island Hill downstream of Roxburgh

Typical rocky hill country enclosing the river near Beaumont, with distinctive rock gardens in
the river

Narrow alluvial terraces are present between the hill slopes and the river in places; the river
landscape extends to the top of the adjacent hill crest/skyline.

7 Mountain Range Landscape (antecedent gorges)

There are two stretches of the Clutha River that flow through an antecedent gorge cut
into mountain range – the Cromwell and Roxburgh Gorges. The whole of the gorge
side slopes are considered to comprise the river landscape, from lake edge to the sky
line. These are areas of homogenous natural character and they should be
considered as a whole, as the whole context for the river (lake).

Roxburgh Gorge

Cromwell Gorge

8 Levee Landscape

Between Balclutha and

the sea the river flows
across a wide flat alluvial
plain, splitting into two
branches. A uniform levee
has been constructed
along both sides of both
branches, to contain rising
floodwaters. The levee is
close and parallel to the
river in a number of
places; and pulls away
from the river in other
places, creating a wide
bench between the levee and the river. When on this bench, the levee forms a strong
topographical crest containing the river landscape.

Local roads are sometimes located between the levee and the river, and the levee encloses
the river landscape

Where the levee is closer to the river however it is practical and desirable to use the
levee to walk/cycle along. From this elevated vantage point there are long views
across the rich farmland of the alluvial plain and the river landscape is considered to
extend up to 500m from the river.

There are long views across the adjacent farmland from the levees

9 Highway Views

There are places on the highways where there is a framed view of the river. The
foreground in these views is considered important, and part of the river landscape
corridor. In order to protect the values associated with the river, these views need
protecting as well.

The foreground in this view of the Clutha River from the Luggate-Tarras highway (SH8a) is
considered part of the river landscape corridor.

10 Backdrop Landscape

There are in specific places parts of the supporting setting that are considered
important to the perceived natural character of the river landscape. Examples are the
high outwash terraces in the Cromwell valley and the rocky kanuka clad faces of Mt

The Bend Terrace, upper Cromwell valley, is a distinctive landform feature seen as backdrop
to the river

Mt Iron is a distinctive backdrop hill to views of the river in the Albert Town-Outlet area

3.22 Description of Clutha River Landscape

The river landscape corridor of the Clutha Mata Au River is set out on Maps 1-16, as
the blue shaded area. Each map is accompanied by 3-4 illustrative aerial oblique
photos with the edge of the river corridor outlined in blue. Views are mostly downriver
(indicated by a down pointing arrow); upriver views are indicated by an upward
pointing arrow. On the maps the shaded area has a fuzzy edge, as it is not possible
to be precise about the edge of the river landscape, especially given the broad brush
nature of this study. A clean solid line is depicted on the aerial photos for the
pruposes of clarity only. Important highway viewpoints are also shown on the aerial

The written description of the river landscape which follows is broadly divided into
sections, which are stretches of the river with a particular character setting them apart
from other sections of the river. These will provide a logical basis for further analysis.

Lake Wanaka to Cardrona River (Maps 1 and 2, Aerial Obliques 1-3)

The first section of the river from where it leaves Lake Wanaka at The Outlet to the
Cardrona/Hawea River confluences is typified by relatively straight to gently sinuous
channel stretches confined in a narrow valley incised in rolling moraine. High eroding
cliffs of gravels and boulders, and fine talc-like silts on the true right, are common.
Wilding pine and douglas fir, Kanuka shrubland and browntop grassland, and, on the
true left, matagouri/brier shrubland and short tussock grassland, are the dominant
cover contributing significantly to a natural character to much of this section.
Lombardy poplars are a feature.
In the Albert Town area, the river passes through flights of large river terraces carved
into expansive outwash surfaces. Long even risers arc away from the river to right
and left, forming a local basin of sorts – reflecting the wandering passages of the
three rivers in this area over time (the Clutha and its first two tributaries, the Hawea
and Cardrona Rivers). On the true left much of this area is still very natural in
character with an open grassland/matagouri/kanuka cover and including the Albert
Town campground area with large pines and poplars. The long ‘clean’ arcs of the
risers remain unsullied by cultural forms and lines. On the true right however the
urban area of Albert Town (present and future, with the development of the Riverside
residential subdivision to its full extent) covers most of the adjacent outwash surface
and limits the extent of the river landscape – its ‘river edge’ being the primary setting.
Downriver of Albert Town the risers come together again at Hallidays Bluff (a high
river cliff cut in moraine).
The river landscape comprises the main risers and cliffs and the airspace for the first
200-300m behind them, as structures or tree planting on the treads behind the crests
can be visually part of the river corridor and affect its perceived character. In places
the distance increases to the nearest rolling crests in the moraine surface, where the
natural path along the river is forced up on to the top of the cliffs by the steep terrain.
The hulk of kanuka-clad Mt Iron (half of which is Department of Conservation [DOC]
reserve) is a dominant and distinctive landform of natural character close to the river
and is considered to contribute to the naturalness of the river landscape.

Cardrona River to Devils Nook (Maps 1 and 2, Aerial Obliques 3-5)

Between the confluence of the Hawea and Cardrona rivers with the Clutha, and
Grandview Reach2 , the Clutha is set within a unique and spectacular landscape of
huge river terraces. The matched surfaces either side of the river - as even as if
formed by a screed - form a large, shallow, well-defined valley. The true left side of
the main riser is notched by a number of tributary gullies. The rhythm of spur and
gully and light and shadow in early and late times of the day are a constantly admired
and much photographed natural feature visible from SH6.
Another marked attribute of this valley is the homogenous relatively highly natural
character of kanuka shrubland and sparse low producing grassland (remnant short
tussock, cushionfield and exotic grassland) although some of these areas have been
ploughed up in the last year or two. Willow stringers persist through this section.
The channel runs straight through the main part of the valley but towards the Red
Bridge (where SH6 and SH8a join across the river) it becomes a eye-catching series
of strong loops enclosing long tongues of gravels, kanuka and conifers culminating in
the distinctive beak-shaped loop of Devils Nook.

Devils Nook to Lake Dunstan (Maps 2 and 3, Aerial Obliques 6-13)

This section of the river flows mainly through extensive outwash plains, where it has
carved flights of large sharply defined terraces. A very short section cuts through
bedrock at Queensberry, where it meets the northeast edge of the Pisa Range (Maori
Gorge). The channel generally forms long straight or softly sinuous stretches. The
river in this section passes through farmland with the occasional vineyard and small
conifer forestry block. Much of the adjacent semi-arid floodplain and outwash surface
is undeveloped and is used for opportunisitic or extensive grazing as well as
supporting large populations of rabbits. Important rare plant species are present on
these flats (eg, Pimelea pulvinaris). Willow stringers and lombardy poplars in places
continue through this section.
The river landscape corridor is largely contained within terraced landforms, with
terrace risers defining the edge of the corridor. These often form a long, flat, open
skyline from viewpoints on the river or its banks. Some of the risers are large
impressive sweeps, testament to the power of the river historically. The terrace
landforms are an integral part of the river landscape from a geomorphological
perspective and are thus part of the defined corridor. It is necessary to extend the
primary setting 150-200m or so behind riser crests, as the air space above the
ground here can contain planting and vertical structures that can affect the perception
of the river corridor (eg, housing overlooking the river, or belts of conifers).
In many places, the practical and logical route to walk is along the edge of outwash
surfaces adjacent to and looking down on the river. On these expansive outwash
surfaces there is often no topographical crest to define the outer edge of the river
landscape. A distance of a couple to several hundred meters is set as the outer edge
(depending on context), based on experience of the river landscape in the field work.
On the open expanses of outwash plain, the sense of wide open space is important.
This also takes into account the air space when seen from below.
The name given the the relatively straight stretch of water between Devils Nook and Sandy
Point on the locally derived map prepared by Lewis Verduyn of Pioneer Rafting

In the vicinity of the Lindis River confluence, the defined corridor becomes wide,
because there is a wide expanse of gravel floodplain here. Also here the stark,
distinctive river-cut scarp faces of The Bend and Bendigo Terraces are considered to
be part of the primary setting. The large distinctive river-cut terraces between Red
Bridge and Sandy Point are similarly included as part of the river landscape.
Where the river comes closer to the Pisa Range, the crests of lower hard rock slopes
with kanuka shrubland define the outer edge of the corridor (eg, south of Luggate,
Queensberry corner). Towards Crippletown, the kanuka-forested slopes of the
Dunstan Mountains (the Bendigo conservation area) are considered to be part of the
river landscape corridor.
In three places there are important views from the highway to the river and the river
landscape is pulled outwards to include the foregrounds of these views (at Kidd creek
and Albert Burn and at Sandy Point).

Lake Dunstan – Bendigo to Cromwell (Map 4, Aerial Obliques 14-16)

The Clutha River becomes Lake Dunstan here, a shallow artificial lake 1-1.5km wide.
The river landscape corridor is asymmetric and irregular. On the true left a line of
lower altitude rocky knobs defines the outer edge. This edge rises at Crippletown
where the kanuka-clad hills become bigger and closer to the river; and it slants up at
Cromwell where a long spur rises up to meet the Fairfax Spur.
On the true right low terrace risers define the outer edge of the corridor between Five
Mile Creek and Locharburn, with the set back at the crest described earlier.
Towards Cromwell, a very strong topographic crest is provided by Sugarloaf and its
smaller versions. The Lowburn valley is included in the river corridor landscape, as
the Sugarloaf landform should be read as a whole. It is a major contributor to
landscape character in this area and an impressive backdrop to views of Lake
The built up areas of Cromwell and Pisa Moorings form the edge of the corridor, at
the southwest end of the lake, restricting it to a relatively narrow strip of public
reserve land between property boundaries and the water’s edge. This area is typified
by disturbed ground, weeds, rank grass, vehicle marks and immature tree planting
(undertaken as part of the hydro works) – it is a disturbed landscape in transition form
farmland to conservation land and reserve. In some few places, it is also a highly
manicured landscape where adjoining private landowners have sown lawns and
maintained them to the water’s edge, as extensions of their gardens.
At Cromwell, the landscape corridor is wrapped around Cornish Point, as the west
facing hillside encloses the view to the Clutha from the public esplanade along the

Cromwell to Clyde (Map 5 and 6, Oblique Aerials 17 and 18)

This section includes lower Lake Dunstan, in the Cromwell Gorge, dammed by the
Clyde dam at the south-eastern mouth of this large fault-controlled valley. The lake
itself is narrow, less than 500m across in most places, and generally tightly contained
by steep rocky range slopes. The river landscape corridor is clearly defined here by
the sky line crests of the Cairnmuir and south Dunstan Mountains (Fairfax Spur). It is
a relatively very natural landscape setting.

There is public access along the crest of the Cairnmuir Mountains which would
provide extensive views down on to the lake/river, set in the context of the whole
gorge landscape. It is likely similar access would occur along the north side as an
outcome of the tenure review of Leaning Rock Station.

Clyde to Alexandra (Map 7, Oblique Aerials 19-21)

The river landscape is split over this section of the river, where it carves a sinuous
path through outwash surfaces.

The landscape corridor along the river itself is effectively restricted to a narrow band
either side of the river by development (orchards, lifestyle blocks and small holdings,
and the built up areas of Clyde and Alexandra towns). This is obvious in the outlook
from the Clyde Dam (refer Oblique Aerial 19 for a similar view). Gold mining tailings
also effectively set an outer edge to the river landscape. The Earnscleugh tailings
have been included in the river landscape corridor because they are visually strongly
connected to the river and are now protected as an historic feature.
The main path along the river is the existing Millennium Track, which follows the river
bank closely on the true right. It is likely this will become part of the river-long trail,
thus the experience of landscape from this route has strongly defined the extent of
the corridor (although this was difficult to determine because of continuous dense
willow growth).

Further away from the river, the near hill sides to the west (Cairnmuir Flats and
Shepherds Flats about Fraser River valley) and the large clear terrace riser to the
east also are considered to form part of the landscape corridor, being strong
enclosing and skyline elements near the river, a visual backdrop. These elements
merge with the river at the Clyde Dam.

At Alexandra, the rocky hillsides to the southeast are part of the river landscape
corridor. Low rocky hillsides at Chapmans Gully and the tailings also form a definitive

Alexandra to Roxburgh Dam (Maps 7 and 8, Oblique Aerials 21 -25)

The Clutha River forms Lake Roxburgh here, dammed by the Roxburgh Dam at the
downstream end of the gorge landform between Alexandra and Roxburgh. Like lower
Lake Dunstan, the water body is tightly contained within steep rocky hillsides. It is
more of a deep gorge landscape however. The lake is much narrower with only a
couple of flat shelving elements within the gorge – steep slopes plunge to the waters
edge almost consistently. Whilst down in the valley, the break in slope forms the
skyline; and clearly defines the river landscape from that perspective. However, the
river/lake is also viewed from the top of Flat Top Hill, and from SH8. In these views
the rock-studded rolling plateau tops of the ranges (Flat Top Hill, Cairnhill, Knobby
Range, the toe of the Old Man Range), including the foregrounds of the views of the
river from SH8, also become part of the landscape setting of the river.

The primary setting for Lake Roxburgh like that for Lake Dunstan is very natural –
open grassland and scrub, rock outcrops and tors on rolling schist fault block

mountain range. Roading, structures and more intensive landuses are notably

Roxburgh Dam to Roxburgh (Map 8 and 9, Oblique Aerials 26 to 27)

The river landscape corridor is again restricted to a narrow band along either side of
the river by more intensive landuse, and the built up area of Roxburgh. The Old Man
Range forms the backdrop and broader setting but it is too big too include as the
primary setting, and is separated from the river by a band of intensively used valley
floor land up to about 600m wide.

At the dam and at Roxburgh, where the valley closes in again, the low crests of rocky
hillsides and knobs close to the river clearly define the river landscape corridor.
Further downstream, on the true left, a high rounded terrace riser forms the skyline
and defines the corridor.

Dense tree cover currently greatly restricts the extent of the perceived river corridor at
Roxburgh, between Ladysmith Road and the river; and no landform horizon can be
seen above it from the existing town riverside walk on the true right, or from the
bridge crossing the river. This area also contains the local refuse tip and sewage
ponds. If the trees were removed, this area may well be considered part of the
corridor, which could extend back to the rising scarp below Ladysmith Road.

Roxburgh to Island Block (Maps 9 to 10, aerial obliques 27 to 31)

The river landscape corridor is variable in type over this section of the river.
Immediately downstream of Roxburgh it is tightly enclosed by rocky outcrops, forming
a small gorge.
From here to the Teviot-Ettrick flats, the river passes through a mix of hill country and
pockets of older flat valley fill deposits. The river landscape here is defined by the
crests of hills and spurs close to the river such as Island Hill and the shoulder about
Black Jacks Creek on the true right, and the rolling spurs on the true left in the
Dumbarton locality. Small pockets of valley floor flats are included, such as the area
in which Pinders Pond is located. Because Island Hill is a distinctive discreet
topographic feature close to the river it is included in the river landscape.
Downstream where the valley opens out the river is entrenched in valley fill. There is
little flat ground between the water’s edge and side of the channel, probably none in
times of high water flow. As in the Upper Clutha, it is likely the most practical - and
most enjoyable - place to walk or mountain bike would be along the top of the sides of
the river channel, looking down on to the river. Similarly once on this surface which is
in many places less intensively developed than upstream, there is no defining
topographical horizon, intensive land use or built up area nearby, so the 500m limit is
adopted here.

On the true right, this situation continues down river to Ettrick, where the river cuts in
under hills again, and the crest of the near spurs of the hill country opposite Millers
Flat defines the corridor down to Island Block where the river swings away from these
hills to pass between Island Block and the rolling hill country on the true left.

On the true left, hilly country comes closer to the river at Teviot, where the skyline
crest of near low hills defines the river landscape corridor. From Teviot to Millers Flat,
this hill country is close to the river but not close enough to be considered the primary
setting – a narrow band of valley fill flats separates the two. The narrowly entrenched
nature of the river is continued through to Island Block, meaning the valley fill surface
itself is the landscape setting under consideration. Similar to the situation upstream of
Roxburgh on the true right, more intensive use including residential use and the town
of Millers Flat are considered to restrict the extent of the landscape corridor on the
true left. Here too it seems logical to use the Millers Flat-Beaumont Road as a
defining edge – it lies about 200-300m away from the river.

Island Block to Beaumont (Maps 10 and 11, aerial obliques 32 to 34)

The River passes through higher steeper hill country over this last section in the
Central Otago District.
The skyline crests of spurs and ridges either side of the river clearly define the
landscape corridor for the most part. The extent of the corridor therefore varies with
the height of the crest.
At Rigney and Craig Flat, isolated conical hills of schist are distinctive and fascinating
features; these and the flats around them are included entirely within the landscape
corridor. The crests of the hill sides curving around them define the outer edge of the
Rock gardens – an intriguing pattern of rock outcrop in the river – are a frequent
feature in the river towards Beaumont.

Beaumont to Rongahere (Maps 11 and 12, aerial obliques 34-37)

At Beaumont the valley opens out and open paddocks on flat valley floor form the
margin for about 2.5km, after initial restriction at Beaumont where a small area of
housing and orchard comes close to the water. The Rongahere-Beaumont road is
considered to form a useful outer edge on the true right, enclosing a margin about
200m wide. Then the river winds through the Rongahere Gorge, another section of
steep hill country, clad mostly in a mix of exotic plantation forestry and remnant
beech-podocarp forest. To the west, the hills are part of the mostly forested Blue
Mountains, rising to almost 1000m altitude; whilst to the east, more pastoral hill
country continues for some distance towards Lawrence and beyond, at a fairly
uniform height of less than 400m altitude.
The extent of the landscape corridor is again substantially defined by the crests of the
nearer hill slopes and is variable in height and width. In three places the valley
widens a little and grassy farmed valley flats are included in the corridor (eg,
Chinaman Flat). Behind the flats the hill faces have been partially cleared for pasture.
Beech forested Birch Island is a feature in the river and rock gardens are present
through this stretch as well.

Rongahere to Tuapeka Mouth (Maps 13, aerial obliques 38-39)

Between Rongahere and Tuapeka Mouth the hill country decreases in height to
become high hard-rock downlands enclosing the river. The crest of the downlands
close to the river form a clear skyline edge to the corridor.
On the true left, there is dense remnant kanuka woodland in gullies and in an open
fringe along the river together with the ubiquitous willows. Rounded ridges and
narrow valley floor terraces have been cleared for pasture and the landscape is
particularly pleasant to look at. The land on the true right has been more substantially
cleared for farmland although kanuka still remains in gullies and a large patch is
present across the hill facing the river just downstream of Rongahere, above a
Gravel bars and islands are becoming a feature of the river in this stretch.

Tuapeka Mouth to Balclutha (Maps 13, 14 and 15, aerial obliques 40-48)

At Tuapeka Mouth the river enters a more open downlands landscape where altitude
of surrounding country is less than 100m on the true right and less than 200m on the
true left. This context is typical down to Balclutha.

On the true right, the edge of the downlands forms a clear skyline and is the outer
edge of the river landscape.
The crest of the downlands close to the river continues to form a clear outer edge of
the landscape corridor in many places, especially on the true right, but there are
stretches where the river is entrenched in strath terraces (wide terraces cut into
bedrock, common on the true left) or in alluvial terraces. The alluvial terraces are
narrow and almost continuous on the true right between Tuapeka Mouth and the
Pomahaka River – a major tributary entering from the right (west) - but between this
confluence and Balclutha, the hard rock downland slopes directly adjoin the river in
many places. Just above Balclutha the valley widens again and the river is
entrenched in wide terraces formed on inside bends of the river.
On the true left, low rolling downland or rocky humps and ridges in the strath terraces
form a more diffuse edge to the landscape corridor. Where there is an absence of
clear topographical crest to define the outer edge, a distance of around 500m has
been set as the outer edge. This is set wider than in a flat plains landscape because
the land gently rises away from the river thus exposing more landscape to view.

Pastoralism is the dominant landuse over the downlands and the flatter areas and
rolling slopes have been cultivated for intensive grazing pasture. Scrub (including
gorse and broom) is common in gullies and on the strath terraces and hill slopes
where the soil cover is thin. A feature of the lower part of this section are remnant
totara trees, near Totara Island. Large gravel islands and bars are features in the
river as well.

Balclutha to Molyneux Bay (Maps 16, aerial obliques 49 - 56)

The character of the river landscape corridor changes markedly on the Clutha delta,
between Balclutha and the Pacific Ocean (Molyneux Bay). The river splits into two
wide sinuous channels of even width – the Mata Au and Koau branches – enclosing a
large ‘island’ called Inch Clutha. These wind across a flat fertile coastal plain roughly
square in shape and some 10-12km across. Low hill ranges enclose to the south and
east, and to the north-northwest the downlands described above form a distant
horizon. The Mata Au branch has a strongly serpentine channel, the large loops
almost creating oval islands in places. The Koau branch is straighter, following a
sinuous path to the sea. The mouths of the channels are about 2.5km apart and are
connected by a channel/wetland area.

To protect the area from flooding, high levees have been built along either side of the
channels. These run parallel and close to the banks in most places. The logical
walking/cycling path is along the top of the levees, eg, the 150thAnniversary Walkway
created along the last kilometer or so of the Mata Au branch (true right). Because of
the elevated viewpoint, there are long views across the adjoining highly developed
farmland (mostly dairying, some market gardening). Where the levee pulls away from
the river there is space for walking close to the river, or riparian wetlands, on the
enclosed bench. In these instances the levee forms the skyline and is considered to
contain the river landscape. Tall structures and trees do appear over the top of the
levee in places, and the first 100m or so of land on the far side of the levee is
considered part of the river landscape from this perspective (more correctly the
airspace behing the levee). From on top of the levees however, the river landscape is
considered to include the adjacent farmland for a distance of 500-700m (although the
whole plain is of alluvial origin). Where the river loops are tight, the whole loop is
considered part of the river landscape, as there are clear views right across the areas
from the levees.