Many of New Zealand's fish are migratory and nocturnal so don’t be surprised if you have not seen many. Take a torch and wander the Waiotahi by night and you could spot longfin and shortfin eels, common, redfin and bluegill bullies, inanga and torrentfish.
Our community, Council and DairyNZ are all keen to see more native fish return to the Waiotahi River, where the bush-flanked headwaters offer superb habitat for adult whitebait. The difficulty for whitebait is getting there.
About the Waiotahi Fish-Friendly Project
DairyNZ and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council are offering farmers a free assessment of fish passage in natural waterways on-farm.
If an obstacle is found, the project team will seek your approval to retrofix a simple solution at no cost.
All fixes will be chosen with your help to ensure farm drainage is protected.
How you can help
You can help if you farm in the Waiotahi valley, including along the Oruamanganui River, Ruakaka River, Atuarere River or the Waiotahi and Gabriel’s Gully Drains. Together, we would like to survey waterways on-farm in early 2015.
To be part of the Waiotahi Fish-Friendly Project, fill out the form below and Tom Stephens (DairyNZ Water Quality Specialist) will contact you to arrange a fish survey. All information supplied will not be shared.
What we call whitebait in New Zealand are in fact five different fish. Along with New Zealand’s native shortfin and longfin eels, these migratory locals make remarkable journeys through farms waterways to and from the sea.
Inanga - olive-brown in colour, long and slender with a large eye, about 80-110 mm long with a distinctly forked tail. Limited to lowlands as cannot readily climb.
Koaro - silvery or pale olive, tubular in shape, excellent climbers, about 160-180 mm long with a distinctly broad head and small eyes. Found throughout New Zealand from lowlands to uplands.
Banded kokopu - earthy brown with golden stripes, amazing climbers, about 200-300 mm long with a very stocky shape and forked banding. Found throughout New Zealand from lowlands to uplands.
Giant kokopu - earthy olive to dark brown, profusion of gold or amber spots, about 300-450 mm long with a very stocky shape and no forked banding. Found throughout New Zealand from lowlands to uplands.
Shortjaw kokopu - mottled brown/grey/pink, faintly banded or spotted, about 150-200 mm long with dark area behind gill cover. Found throughout New Zealand from lowlands to uplands.
The New Zealand longfin eel lives up to 100 years and breeds only once at the end of its life, travelling to Tonga to spawn. The young glass eels produced there return to New Zealand where they navigate up rivers like the Waiotahi to mature.
Whitebait will journey up to 200km in New Zealand’s rivers. That is the equivalent of us doing 80,000 laps of an Olympic swimming pool.
It can be a tough challenge overcoming perched, too fast- or too slow-flowing culverts or steep weirs on farms. Despite once being so abundant that you could scoop them up with a bucket, they are at risk from habitat loss, land use, predation and barriers to migration.
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