Jamie Morton is the NZ Herald's science reporter.

Canterbury's Waimakariri River - from space

Canterbury's Waimakariri River - as seen from space. Photo / NASA/USGS
Canterbury's Waimakariri River - as seen from space. Photo / NASA/USGS

The shallow, snaking, braided channels of Canterbury's Waimakariri River - and the heavily-developed pastureland around it - have been captured by a Nasa satellite.

The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured these images - just displayed on Nasa's website - of the Canterbury Plains and Eyrewell Forest on October 17, 2015.

The channels of the Waimakariri River twist through the landscape and flow into Pegasus Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

The alluvial plains of the Waimakariri, appearing as a multi-coloured patchwork of squares and circles, contain pastureland and sod farms.

A close-up image of the satellite picture. Photo / NASA/USGS
A close-up image of the satellite picture. Photo / NASA/USGS

Near the shallow, wide riverbed, some farmers keep paddocks and fields where cattle graze; the poorly-drained soils also lend themselves to sod farming.

Some fields further from the river are irrigated by centre-pivot sprinklers, which form a circular pattern when the landscape is viewed from above.

In recent times the impact of agriculture on the rare river system, home to a diversity of species, has concerned environmental groups, who fear farms have been encroaching into the river area.

The Eyrewell Forest pine plantations, also captured by the satellite, were established in the late 1920s.

A view of the Waimakariri River from the Klondyke campsite above the Bealey River convergence. Photo / File
A view of the Waimakariri River from the Klondyke campsite above the Bealey River convergence. Photo / File

New Zealand's dense stands of pinus radiata grow for more than 25 years before they are harvested, and the trees can stand up to 40m tall.

- NZ Herald

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