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Past and present images are overlayed. If you don’t see the transition between images, click on them and wait a few moments.

Images on this page have been sourced from Google Earth and the CanterburyMaps and partners and licensed for reuse under the CC BY 4.0. The images will scale up or down according to your screen size, but they are best seen on a large  (27-inch) monitor otherwise the titles and descriptions will appear well below each image.


Okuki River (top middle left) confluence with the Ashley River Rakahuri. Yellow lines show the width of the historic braid plain based on the geomorphology (height of banks). Red arrows show how much forest, agriculture, and weeds have reduced the width of the active river between the 1940s and 2019.



Upper section of the Okuku River facing south. The B&W image is from the 1960s. The colour image is from Google Earth, October 2020. The  Waimakari Council drone image was taken just after the May/June floods, 2021, and used in multiple publications including local newspapers and Radio NZ.


Rakitata River: encroachment of agriculture onto the rivebeds. The B&W aerial is from the 1950s; the colour image is from 2019.

Above: Rakitata 2019 flood

The centre-pivot irrigation system (at left) was installed literally in the middle of what in the 1950s was an established river channel.

“From the ground, it would have seemed like chaos; floods of water rampaging over the plains, damaging anything in its path. But from above, a different picture was emerging. Environment Canterbury (ECan) staff were photographing the floods from the air, later stitching together the images to create a mosaic of the event.

“It showed the floodwaters were following a predetermined pattern. The flood was itself a river, with twists and braids and tributaries, much like the Rangitata itself.

“A zombie river, long ago buried beneath asphalt and housing and irrigators, had been revived.”The Rewilding Project / Stuff (2021)

Above: Ashburton Hakatere 2021 flood

The 1960s B&W image shows the extent of the braidplain where river channels historically flowed during high water events. The colour Google Earth image 01 June 2021 shows where, with nowhere else to go, the north branch utilized some of its previous channels.