A tribute to New Zealand’s clean, green and mighty engineering

New Zealand has a repute for being clean and green. It isn’t entirely; no twenty-first country can be completely so. But a good deal of it is – including our power, much of which comes from hydro schemes.

The bulk of those are in the South Island, where the terrain is well suited to such systems. In the late 1960s work began on the most audacious development to date – the Upper Waitaki scheme, which produced some 58 km of canals and artificial lakes.

Some 45 million cubic metres of spoil were excavated. A whole new town, Twizel, was founded in 1968 to provide accommodation for the workers. The scale of it put the scheme up there with some of the world’s biggest and most audacious engineering works, added four power stations to the system along the Waitaki river, and was in operation by the late 1980s.

The aqua-blue water is really that colour, it's a by-product of ground glacial rock flour suspended in the water.
The aqua-blue water is really that colour, it’s a by-product of ground glacial rock flour suspended in the water.

The whole Waitaki system, including two earlier stations downstream, can generate up to 1738 megawatts and, annually, produces up to 7640 gigawatt-hours of power – all cleanly from the best of all renewable sources, pure water (albeit with a little rock flour stirred into it…)

I like that idea. Do you?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013


7 thoughts on “A tribute to New Zealand’s clean, green and mighty engineering

  1. That is an incredible photo. If you had not clarified about the aqua blue colour of the water, I would have thought it had been digitally doctored. How blessed do you see yourself living in a country like that?

    Shakti

    1. It is an amazing colour. The water comes from Lake Pukaki, which is fed by a glacier at one end and is also that colour because of the ground rocks. Yes, the photo is exactly as it came out of my camera, apart from cropping to fit the blog and adding a copyright notice – in this world of Instagram filters I prefer instead to try and bring the natural world through as I see it through the lens.

      NZ has some amazing scenery but there are many dull areas, too!

    1. It’s a fantastic area – utterly scenic, utterly spectacular. Stood in for ‘Rohan’ in The Lord of the Rings movies. We went through it only by accident – had intended to drive up the west coast of the South Island, but the passes were closed by rain, so we re-jigged the journey and detoured east, where we could see the storm clouds on the other side of the ranges but where it was flawless day.

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