Our hydro stations are located in some of the most scenic places in New Zealand, making them popular spots to visit. We own and operate six power stations in the Waitaki hydro scheme, as well as the country’s largest hydro station – Manapōuri – and three hydro stations in Australia.
Waitaki hydro scheme
The Waitaki hydro scheme is a series of interconnected lakes and canals used to generate electricity. It consists of eight power stations, and Meridian owns and operates six of these:
How hydroelectricity works
Typically, a dam stores water in a reservoir. Water released from the reservoir falls through a pipe called a penstock to a turbine. These turbines look like large wheels with wide spokes. The water hits the blades and pushes them to make the turbine spin. The turbine’s rotation drives a generator to produce electricity. In other words, this spinning ‘changes’ the force of falling water into electricity.
Most of Meridian's electricity is made from the energy of falling water. Our hydro stations generate enough electricity to power around 1.4 million homes each year.
It's not possible to store large amounts of electricity. But it is possible to store water in dams…
Keeping an eye on the water
We manage about 50% of New Zealand's total hydro storage. We collect information on lake levels, as well as the amount of water stored as snow, so we can estimate its impact on inflows.
We work closely with iwi and a range of stakeholders to balance the different economic, social, cultural and environmental implications of water use in New Zealand.
Dry river bed safety
Meridian's hydro stations are located in some of the most scenic places in New Zealand, making them popular spots to visit.
At times, we’ll release water from our stations. We’ll always update signage nearby to let you know when we’re going to do this. If you’re camping or fishing in a dry river bed, you must remain vigilant and follow all instructions. If you see water appear, the most important thing to do is get out of the water and stay out.
If you want more information on our planned flow releases, you can call the Meridian Control Centre on 03 4350 928.
Habitat enhancement and restoration
We’re privileged as the kaitiaki of the local waters we use to generate electricity. It’s important to us that we take care of them, as well as the species that call them home. We're constantly monitoring the impact of our hydro stations and working with stakeholders on initiatives to lessen them. These mainly relate to effects on water-based species resulting from inundation, dry river beds or habitat loss.
- Project River Recovery: We’re ongoing supporters of the Department of Conservation’s Project River Recovery, which preserves flora and fauna in the Upper Waitaki Basin’s braided river habitats.
- Waiau River Restoration: The Waiau River restoration work is a partnership between Meridian and the Waiau Fisheries and Wildlife Habitat Enhancement Trust (Waiau Trust). The Trust manages a number of habitat enhancement projects that improve the ecological health of the Waiau River.
- Elver trap and transfer: The Waiau and Waitaki catchments are home to thousands of native eels. Building and operating dams in these areas has had impacts on their migratory habits. Check out what we’re doing to ensure the health of both the eels and their waters.