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Still afloat ... Mataura rafting enthusiast Phill Joostens has been working with Southland Fish and Game to fine tune his resource consent application to start a rafting business on the Mataura and Oreti rivers. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Southland Fish & Game has no objection to four of the five rafting trips planned for the Mataura and Oreti rivers.

Mataura man Phill Joostens submitted a resource consent to the Gore and Southland district councils earlier this year to start the business on the rivers and is awaiting approval.

Fish & Game resource management officer Jacob Smyth said the group did not approve of the trip planned on the Mataura River from Nokomai to Cattle Flat, nor the one on the Waikaia River from Waiparu to Wendon, now withdrawn.

“Fish & Game has signalled we are not opposed to the remaining four excursions, so it’s only opposition in part,” Mr Smyth said.

The Mataura Conservation Order recognised the importance of the river as a fishery that attracted anglers from throughout New Zealand and the world.

“There’s some concern about the impact the proposal would have on the fishery and the angling associated with it.

“[There is] the possibility of recreational conflict between bank-based angling and the rafting proposal.”

Problems could arise when the passing rafts affected the water where the fish were feeding.

“There is an issue in relation to potential disturbance of water with the rafting activity, particularly when the upper Mataura and the Waikaia River are relatively small, narrow waterways.

“[Anglers] want undisturbed sections of water for that activity.”

Brown trout did stop feeding when frightened.

“Typically, when they are spooked what they’ll do is go into a refuge-type behavioural pattern where they will hide under undercut banks rather than being out actively feeding.”

Mr Joostens had made a presentation of his proposed business to the 12 members of the group’s council.

“They considered the application in terms of the effect upon recreational angling and also the fishery itself.”

There had been good communication between Mr Joostens and the group regarding the application, Mr Smyth said.

Mr Joostens said he was still making changes to the resource consent and had withdrawn the trip planned for the Waikaia River from his application.

The trip from Nokomai to Cattle Flat had also been modified from three trips a week to a lesser number.

“I’ve now proposed 20 trips per calendar year and the frequency at the most is only two trips per week until all my 20 trips are used up,” Mr Joostens said.

It was unlikely all the trips outlined in the resource consent would take place.

“If I put in for one trip a day and yet there’s people queuing up to come and try the rafting and I can’t cater for that. it’s a flop.

“You’re better off trying to futureproof it a bit.”

Professional fishing guide Casey Cravens, of Dunedin, has started a petition calling for the resource consent before the councils to be notifiable.

Mr Cravens said Mr Joosten’s proposal to raft from Nokomai to Cattle Flat was “obscene”.

“That section of water can hold only four rods per day and is comparable to the walk-in zone on the Oreti, which has a strict beat system.”

The trip that was planned from Otamita or Monaghan’s beach to Gore could result in permission to launch up to six rafts a day, with up to seven people in each raft, five days a week, for 28 weeks of the season.

“Joostens would also overwhelm and dominate this reach.

“It’s hard to portray this as anything but exclusive capture.”

The Resource Management Act was clear that applications for discretionary development must be democratic, which was especially true if the effects of any proposal could be major, he said.

PROPOSED RAFT TRIPS

  • Nokomai to Cattle Flat – excursion 1
    This excursion is targeted at tourists looking for either a day or leisurely overnight trip, including providing transport for anglers that wish to stop and fish along the way. A maximum number of 20 trips per year.
  • Otamita or Monaghan’s Beach to Gore – excursion 2
    This excursion is targeted at clients seeking a half-day leisurely rural experience, including providing transport for anglers who wish to stop and fish along the way. Clients will have the opportunity en route to prospect for gold using gold pans. A maximum number of 10 excursions per week is proposed.
  • Gore to Mataura – excursion 3
    This excursion is targeted at the self-directed tourist market. As such, guides will be optional, and clients will have the opportunity to pilot their own raft. A maximum number of three excursions per week is proposed, which will consist of up to three rafts capable of each carrying six clients and one guide who will oversee all three rafts.
  • Mataura to Wyndham – excursion 4
    This excursion is targeted at tourists looking for either a day or leisurely overnight trip, including providing transport for anglers who wish to stop and fish along the way. A maximum number of three excursions per week is proposed.
  • Waikaia River: Waiparu to Wendon – excursion 5 (withdrawn)
    This excursion has been withdrawn from the resource consent application.
  • Oreti River: Lumsden to Dipton – excursion 5
    This excursion is targeted at clients seeking a full day’s rural experience, including providing transport for anglers who wish to stop and fish. A maximum number of five excursions per week is proposed.