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  • Discover information and hands-on activities about river catchments.

    Find out more about river catchments – both large and small – and where we fit with our local water catchments. Select a label for background information and hands-on activities.

    To use this interactive, move your mouse or finger over any of the labelled boxes and click to obtain more information

    Background map, Waikato Regional Council.


    Water flows and catchments

    A water catchment is an area of land and the water that collects and moves through it. Catchments can be really big – like the Waikato River catchment – or very small – like a small wetland on someone’s property.

    Use the following resources to learn about catchments.

    Related articles

    Related videos

    This Rivers and Us resource is in a downloadable PDF format.

    Select here to view the video transcript and copyright information.

    Acknowledgement: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato and Waikato Regional Council

    Mapping water at my school

    The activity Mapping water at my school encourages students to actively observe what happens to precipitation in their local school catchment – the outdoor sports fields, courts, paths, playgrounds and roofs – and to identify the source of indoor water use and its disposal.

    It uses online mapping and outdoor exploration to gather, interpret and critique data about the local environment.

    The student handout has word cards students can use to create a water cycle that includes the water at their school.

    Acknowledgement: Sergey Minaev, 123RF Ltd

    Mapping my local water catchment

    The activity Mapping my local water catchment asks students to use an online topographic map to view their local catchment area(s) and consider how elevation, vegetation, land use and human activities influence waterways. It provides practice with the science capability ‘Interpret representations’.

    These Rivers and Us resources are in a downloadable PDF format. Use them to learn about drinking water and wastewater treatment.

    Acknowledgement: NZ Topo Map
    Images sourced from LINZ – Crown Copyright

    Build a model water catchment

    The activity Building a model water catchment provides students with a three-dimensional experience of water catchments. Students can build a large outdoor model or smaller catchments using tote trays.

    The activity provides a useful context in which to discuss models in science – why scientists use them, the similarities and differences between the model and a real catchment and the benefits and drawbacks of using a model.

    Acknowledgement: Rivers and Us, Waikato Regional Council

    Waikato River catchment

    The Waikato River is significant for its enormous catchment area and for its importance to Waikato-Tainui, the mana whenua.

    The following articles provide information about the Waikato River as an ecosystem, the significance of the river to its people and efforts to restore te mana o te awa.

    Acknowledgement: Waikato-Tainui College for Research and Development


    This interactive has been developed in partnership with the Waikato Regional Council as part of the Rivers and Us resource.

    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato and Waikato Regional Council Published 13 March 2020 Size: 400 KB Referencing Hub media
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