Fight the Griffin Hydro scheme

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Update: 30 October 2018 by Dan Clearwater

Niel Silverwood has been keeping tabs on this issue on behalf of The Federated 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 is 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 has 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 it’s 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 affected 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.  It’s 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 have been working with Neil Silverwood who is a 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 affected, 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 is now aware that this is a classic canyon with the potential to become more popular. There was an 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 has also made a commitment 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 (it’s 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 (it’s FREE) to add your name to the canyoners we represent to fight the Griffin 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.

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 NZ 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 (it’s free)


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