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Waitaki hydro station

Waitaki is a hydro station located in the Waitaki Valley, New Zealand.

It has seven 15 megawatt generating units, totalling a generation output of up to 105 megawatts. Waitaki generates enough electricity each year for about 51,000 average New Zealand homes. 

Waitaki was constructed by manual labour as a ‘make work’ project during the Depression of the 1930s.  Meridian is investing more than $40 million on a four-year project to refurbish the Waitaki dam and power station.

Building Waitaki

The Waitaki power station was the last to be constructed in New Zealand without modern mechanical equipment. Over half a million cubic metres of material was excavated, almost entirely by pick and shovel.

It is a concrete arch dam with no spillway, but it’s designed to allow water to flow over the top if it floods.

The hydro station started generating electricity in 1935, with two 15 megawatt generators operating – enough to meet almost half of the South Island’s electricity needs at that time.

Three more generators were installed between 1940 and 1949, bringing the generation capacity up to 75 megawatts.

The remaining two units were constructed from 1952 to 1954. The whole power house was extended and a new inlet and outlet channel constructed to accommodate them.