Southland District Council has granted resource consent for a commercial rafting operation on the Mataura and Oreti rivers.
Team leader resource management Marcus Roy confirmed consent had been approved for Phillip and Rachael Joostens, of Mataura, subject to a range of conditions which would be monitored and reviewed during the initial ten-year term.
“The applicant sees the venture as providing a leisurely sightseeing alternative for those tourists who want to take the time to appreciate their surroundings, rather than the usual whitewater rafting operations,” Roy said.
“Resource Management Act tests around any adverse effects of the activity were determined as less than minor and therefore the application was not required to be publically notified. The applicant also made amendments to his application in order to mitigate the effects on other users.”
The proposed tourism activity comprises five excursion options, of which three are located within the Southland district. A concurrent consent application has been made to Gore District Council as the activity crosses over between the two governing bodies along the Mataura River.
Within the Southland district, the three excursions are:
- Mataura River from the confluence with the Nokomai River to Cattle Flat.
- Mataura River from Mataura to Wyndham
- Oreti River from Lumsden to Dipton
Operating with a maximum of two rafts, each will carry six clients and a guide. There will be no more than one trip on any given day and no trips operating between 1 to 10 May each year which coincides with duck shooting.
There will be no fishing from the rafts and short stops for swimming or walking.
The scale of the operation is considered to be at the lower end of a commercial rafting activity due to the limits on the daily number of rafts, people per raft, trips on any given day and trips per week.
“There has been a lot of public interest and that stems from perceived change to the fishery. The applicant changed his initial application so during the fishing season rafting will only operate in the Upper Mataura when the river is at or above 30 cumecs so it is unlikely there will be any fishermen around. The two activities can co-exist.”
The applicant has prepared strategies to mitigate potential effects on biosecurity and wildlife (such as black-billed gulls).
Along with consulting Southland Fish and Game, the applicant obtained written permission from the Department of Conservation, LINZ and owners of land for access or camping, Te Ao Marama Incorporated, Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu and Environment Southland.