A recently discovered rare native fish has saved the Nevis River behind Queenstown’s Remarkables mountain range from damming.
An Environment Ministry tribunal this week allowed an application by the New Zealand and Otago Fish and Game councils to vary the 1997 Kawarau water conservation order.
The order protected the Nevis’ wild and scenic characteristics but didn’t prohibit damming.
The Fish and Game councils sought a variation because Central Lakes Trust-owned Pioneer Generation has been considering hydro-electric schemes on the Nevis.
The tribunal has allowed the variation due to the “outstanding value” of a small native Nevis fish, the Gollum galaxiid or “smeagol”.
The “distinct species” wasn’t even known about at the time of the original conservation hearings, the tribunal states.
“The river has a range of important values, it’s one of Central Otago’s treasures,” Otago Fish and Game boss Niall Watson says. Submitters have 15 days to appeal the decision to the Environment Court.