Fight the Griffin Hydro scheme


Huge thank you to Jake Huddleston, NZCA member, who produced this excellent video showcasing the plight of Griffin Creek. 


Update: The proposed concession variation application has been formally withdrawn!: 25 March 2019 by Dan Clearwater

Fantastic news!!   NZCA has just been informed by Tim Shaw, of DOC Hokitika that;

Griffin Creek Hydro Limited [holders of the existing concession, and partners with NZ Energy Ltd] have withdrawn their application to vary their existing concession to operate a hydro scheme on Griffin Creek.

The existing concession remains in place.

At this stage the Department is not aware of what Griffin Creek Hydro Limited intend as a next step. As promised previously, I will keep you informed as much as I can as to what is happening with this.

This is hugely significant; when discussing the variation application, the applicant claimed that the scheme was not viable without the variation (ie, double the abstraction rate from 1200L/s to 2500L/s and have the acceptable residual flow lowered from 800L/s to 456L/s. )

Whether that claim was just for effect (and they will still construct the smaller hydro scheme) or whether it was true (and they have to abandon the project) remains to be seen.  But for now, at worst we’ve significantly reduced the potential impact of the hydro that could be build, and at best we’ve saved Griffin completely from this hydro scheme.

This is a huge achievement for the NZCA, and demonstrates the value of having the association and supporting us by being a member (its free!).

The NZCA would like to take the time to acknowledge those who have put in massive efforts to help achieve this result;

  • Justin Venable, NZCA West Coast Rep for alerting us to the issue and liaison locally.
  • Neil Silverwood, representative of FMC, who researched the issues and liaised very closely with the players in Hokitika.
  • Support from the Federated Mountain Clubs of NZ, adding the voice of 21,000 members and significant influence to our discussions with DOC
  • Jake Huddleston, who produced the video testimony of the plight of Griffin Creek
  • Annette Philipps, NZCA Advocacy representative.
  • Dan Clearwater, who wrote the 28 February letter to the influencers, detailing NZCA’s opposition to the project.

Although we’ve probably won this battle, the war isn’t over yet, and we need to remain vigilant for any other threats to canyoning.  Please do your part to support canyoning in NZ by joining the NZCA (its free!) and telling your mates to join too. If you want to contribute financially to the NZCA’s costs, and/or to support our Canyon Fund, please email



Update: 28 February 2019 by Dan Clearwater

With support form Neil Silverwood and Jan Finlayson of the Federated Mountain Clubs, The NZCA has sent a letter to Mr Tim Shaw, community ranger, DOC Hokitika who is managing the concession process.  It was also sent to Minister of Conservation, Hon Eugenie Sage,  South West South Island Operations Manager Mr Mark Davies and Deputy Chair of the Westland Tai Poutini Conservation Board Dr Keith Morfett.  We’ve also sent a copy of the Canyoning in NZ guidebook to DOC Hokitika to show them how Griffin rates compared to its peers on the coast.

The letter clearly explains the high recreational values of Griffin Creek and reminds these key people that these values have not been considered when assessing the concession application. The Conservation Act clearly requires all values to be considered and any impact avoided or minimised; a process which has clearly not occurred.

A copy of the letter is available to read.  We thank all those who have joined NZCA to help support this cause.  If you haven’t joined yet, please JOIN NOW.  Its free, and every person adds the weight of numbers behind our voice for this and any future battles we have to fight on your behalf.


Update: 30 October 2018 by Dan Clearwater

Neil Silverwood has been keeping tabs on this issue on behalf of The Fedearated Mountain Clubs and NZCA.  He’s met briefly with NZ Energy (NZE) which is the company which has the existing concession. He’s given them information on the canyon, and made sure that DOC are aware of the significance of the Griffin to Canyoneers.

DOC recently met with NZE and asked them for more information regarding the effects of the proposed increased water take and effects on recreation. This is supposedly due to be completed by December. But none of us here at the NZ Canyoning Association have been approached yet by anyone from NZE…

Neil assures us that NZE has our contact information, and that the ball is firmly in their court. Once DOC have received this they will set up a meeting between DOC, FMC and the canyoning association.

What we need is for those people who have descended Griffin to send us emails/letters about how the canyoning experience would be altered if they took more than 75% of the water from the canyon.  Send your words/stories to 

Also make sure you have JOINED NZCA… You only need to do it once, and its free.. So make sure you’re a member, and get your canyoning buddies to join too. The more canyoners who are members, the more people we can demonstrate will be effected by this hydro scheme.


Update: 15 June 2018 by Dan Clearwater

Niel Silverwood has heard back from DOC that the application is being considered by the Department as a material change variation to an existing concession.  This means we don’t get to make a full submission against it. However, DOC agreed that the effect on Canyoners of approving such a scheme needs to be investigated and considered.  Neil is working with the representatives of the Hydro company and DOC to explain what the impact is.

Currently they are planning to take up to 75% of the low summer average flow from the canyon… Down from 1600 litres/sec  to 456l/s…    Only a quarter of the flow would turn this white water mega classic into a pathetic trickle and an insult to this incredible natural feature as well as to canyoners!

What can you do?  

If you think this is unacceptable, then say so!!   Send your comments of support and description of what this de-watering would mean for the canyoners to  We’ll collate the replies and pass them on to Neil and to DOC.

Also, tell your buddies to join NZCA.  Its FREE and the more members we have, the more our voice will be listened to as an effected group in this and all future challenges to canyoning opportunities.


Update: 6 April 2018 by Dan Clearwater

Justin Venable, Andy White and Richard Bramley from the NZCA has been working with Neil Silverwood who is an member of the executive of the Federated Mountain Clubs of NZ. The team is working find out more about this proposal, and what can be done to stop it.

Neil has met with Tim Shaw from DOC Hokitika, who is handling the Griffin hydro scheme concession.

Apparently DOC issued a concession in 2011 (the canyon was first explored in 2013) for a run of the river hydro scheme with an intake below the 48m waterfall marked on the map. Last year the applicant explored the possibility of a higher intake above the gorge where the Griffin Hut track intersects the river. However this would have involved putting a pipeline in across a large active slip so this has been dropped recently.

So the good news is at this stage the top section of the Canyon won’t be effected, the bad news is the applicant has now applied to vary the concession and put in a higher volume pipeline, following a different route and take more of the flow.

DOC are now aware that this is a classic canyon with the potential to become more popular. There was a internal DOC meeting on Tuesday about the application. They’re going to make a decision in the next few weeks whether to go with a ‘variation process’ or to start a full new process (where we would get to have a say).

DOC have also made a committment to let FMC and NZCA know about this decision, and passed Neils contact details through to the Hydro company. Also “Regardless of the outcome of the above process the department will be requiring the applicant to provide information on the impact of the proposed variation on canyoning.’

We’re also aware of another proposal on McCulloghs Creek, (near Whataroa on the West Coast) and NZCA Advocacy rep Annette Phillips is working with the FMC team to write a submission on that proposal. Currently McCullogh’s doesn’t appear to have canyoning potential, but NZCA (and FMC) are concerned that the spate of Hydro being granted concessions on the West Coast’s public lands is alarming, and we want to make sure they know we’re watching very very closely.

What can you do to help? Join the NZCA (its FREE), share this post, encourage your mates to join, so that if/when we need your support, we’ve got a record of how many Canyoners the NZCA represent!


We need your help! 27 April 2018 by Dan Clearwater

We need your help! Join NZCA today (its FREE) to add your name to the canyoners we represent to fight the Griffn Hydro Scheme.

Its been brought to our attention that Griffin Creek (v3a5IV***), near Hokitika, is under imminent threat of a hydro scheme that could potentially see this incredible canyon running at a trickle. Not to mention threaten the habitat of the Whio (Blue Duck) who live in this valley..

One of the Whio we saw during our trip

One of the Whio we saw during our trip

Griffin is a big water mega-classic of NZ and we just can’t let this hydro happen…


As NZCA is affiliated to the Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand, we’re asking them for support, and talking to DOC and the Westland Regional Council. But to give our arguments and pleas weight, we need members. The more people we represent, the louder our voice is when protecting these places we cherish. So we need you to JOIN (its free)


This is one of the major reasons NZCA was established; to PROTECT the canyoning environments and opportunities we value so much.


So make sure you’re a member. Its free and just takes a few minutes to join. Let your canyoning friends know and make sure they have signed up. We need your help today.

So join up!! and follow the NZCA on Facebook for updates