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Kowai River: Leithfield

Several rivers bear the same name ‘Kowai’, a Maori word that means ‘separate’.

The small Kowai River in North Canterbury is between the Waipara River to the north, and the Ashley River to the south. It is not monitored by LAWA.

The river has two branches. The main (southern) branch drains much of the eastern part of Ashley Forest whilst the north branch rises in the area of Mt Grey. The two branches meet just west of Leithfield, then flows just north of Leithfield into a small estuary. The river is frequently dry, with the river mouth closed more often than not.

It is included here because we undertook a bird survey in 2018 to determine if any river birds were breeding here. Based on this one survey only it seems that at least one pair of banded dotterels bred here that season.

Research material

  • ECan document library: enter Kowai River in the keywords search field  (you will also come across information on other rivers of the same name, so look for names like Amberley or Leithfield in the titles)
  • DOC catalogue of scientific publications: enter the relevant search terms in the ‘search’ dialogue box. You may need to vary your search, for example ‘black stilt’ gives far more results than ‘kaki’ or ‘kakī’
Kowai River mouth
Kowai River mouth