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Rakaia River and township

The Rakaia River, in the Canterbury Plains in New Zealand's South Island, is one of the largest braided rivers in New Zealand . The river has a mean flow of 203 cubic metres per second and a mean annual seven-day low flow of 87 cubic metres per second.


Big Salmon at the entrance to Rakaia

It rises in the Southern Alps, travelling 150 kilometres in a generally easterly or southeasterly direction before entering the Pacific Ocean 50 kilometres south of Christchurch.

For much of its journey, the river is a braided river, running through a wide shingle bed. Close to Mount Hutt, however, it is briefly confined to a narrow canyon known as the Rakaia Gorge.

The two bridges crossing the Rakaia River, at the township of Rakaia, are New Zealand's longest road and rail bridges respectively. The bridges are some 1750 metres in length and only has one lane in each direction. The small town of Rakaia, 20 kilometres from the Rakaia River mouth, is halfway between Christchurch and Ashburton.


Rakaia bridge looking North


Driving across the Rakaia bridge heading South


Plaque at the Rakaia end of the bridge

The Rakaia River is a celebrated Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) fishery.The Rakaia is known for its large wrybill population which represents 73 percent of the total population. Other important bird species known to be found in the Rakaia riverbed are Wrybill, Black fronted Tern and Banded Dotterel.

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Map of Rakaia

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