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Branch River Power Scheme

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Branch River Hydroelectric Power Scheme is based around Branch River, in the upper South Island of New Zealand. It’s a ‘run of river’ Scheme with daily storage. Two Power Stations, Wairau and Argyle, produce an average annual output of 54.3 GWh. Fishing is popular in Lake Argyle and Branch River. We support trout restocking and eel trap and transfer programmes. There are fish passes for trout and native species.

At a Glance

LOCATION: Branch River

Commissioned 1983

Max Capacity 11 MW

Annual output 54.3 GWh

Branch River is a relatively recent Power Scheme, commissioned in 1983. The two stations, Wairau and Argyle, each have one generator, delivering a combined output of 11 MW and an average of 54.3 GWh a year. 

Environment and recreation 

Resource Consents for the scheme were renewed by Marlborough District Council in 2001. The new consents reflect the input of local fishermen and Fish and Game New Zealand. There was close consultation, including on how to consolidate the fishery within Lake Argyle, and how to redesign the existing fish pass to enhance the upstream fishery.

Working closely with Fish and Game New Zealand (Nelson/Marlborough Region), the review of the fish pass design has resulted in the repurposing of the fish pass to a fish trap and transfer system. The work to complete this is planned for early 2017. The trap and transfer system will complement the existing trout restocking programme. The review of this programme in 2016 resulted in the annual stocking numbers doubling; to 800 x 40 centimetre trout annually, with Fish and Game being responsible for the physical restocking of trout into the Branch and Leatham Rivers (above the Branch Scheme intake weir). The objective of this programme is for seven catchable trout (40 centimetres or longer) per kilometre of river stocked. Native fish will continue to be able to use the dedicated native fish pass to complete their upstream migrations.

We have a Memorandum of Understanding with tangata whenua that reinforces our commitment to improving the Longfin Eel fishery. An elver (young eel) trap and transfer programme is in place.

Branch River Power Scheme
Branch River Power Scheme

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