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‟the conservation of the Lake Hayes resource is of regional and national importance both economically, recreationally and for its intrinsic and scenic values.” 

The Otago Regional Council Lake Hayes Management Strategy 


The Society was incorporated in October 2008 after being initiated by a group of property owners at Lake Hayes concerned about the serious deterioration of the water quality in the lake since 2006. Its charitable purpose is to do whatever is reasonably necessary to enhance and maintain the quality of water in the lake for the benefit of use and enjoyment of everybody residing in the vicinity of Lake Hayes and for all visitors and users of the lake.

FOLH buoy launch.jpg

Dr Marc Schallenberg from Otago University, Mike Hanff from FOLH and Rachel Ozanne from Otago Regional Council, oversee the launch of the new solar-powered monitoring buoy on Lake Hayes in July 2019. The buoy will take water quality and meteorological readings every 15 minutes.

Since October 2008 the Society has held discussions with Otago Regional Council (ORC), Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC), the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Fish and Game Otago about the water quality issues at Lake Hayes. It has also met with several New Zealand and international scientific experts on small lakes with water quality problems to identify possible solutions for Lake Hayes.

In 2009 the Society investigated the concept of siphoning nutrient-rich deep water from the lake to speed up recovery. It also looked at the use of floating pumps to agitate the surface water to disrupt algae blooms. Most recently it has examined the feasibility of taking excess water from the Arrow Irrigation Scheme and diverting this into Lake Hayes to increase the rate of expulsion of nutrients from the lake and this is looking promising.

The Society has supported several post graduate research projects undertaken by students from the University of Otago into aspects of water quality issues in Lake Hayes which have helped to build a science-based understanding of the behaviour of the lake. In 2010 it supported large scale study undertaken by NIWA to test nutrient capping restoration tools in Lake Hayes as part of a national research programme.

Two Government Ministers, the Hon Nick Smith (Environment) and Hon Rodney Hide (Local Government) have visited Lake Hayes at the invitation of the Society to see the issues at first hand.

The Society has lobbied hard to ORC to increase the amount of water quality monitoring in Lake Hayes and in the Mill Stream catchment. It has strongly advocated for the installation of a monitoring buoy in the lake which can continuously record key water quality parameters. This will provide a better understanding of how and why the algae and cyanobacteria blooms occur. Comprehensive ongoing monitoring of water quality in the Mill Stream is also seen as essential to manage the risk of more nutrients entering the lake as a result of existing and new residential and commercial development in the catchment.

In 2017 the Society commissioned a substantial scientific report titled “Lake Hayes Restoration and Monitoring Plan which was prepared by Dr Marc Schallenberg and Lena Schallenberg of Hydrosphere Research Ltd. This summarises all of the current information about water quality in Lake Hayes and identifies a range of potential restoration methods to return the lake quality to an acceptable state.

The Society intends to work with the ORC, QLDC, DOC, Fish and Game, Otago University and NIWA to identify the best management options for improving the quality of the water in lake. It will promote these strongly to gain support from Government and any other agency or organization that can assist. It will also pursue all possible means to obtain the necessary funding and other resources to implement a lake water remediation programme in Lake Hayes in the medium term.

In 2018 and 2019 the Society made submissions to QLDC in opposition to the proposed housing and hotel developments at Waterfall Park, Ayrburn Farm, as well as land-use and zoning changes in the QLDC District Plan review. This evidence contributed to the findings of the District Plan Review hearing commissioners who recommended that land in the Mill Creek catchment needed to be as low density as possible (Rural Amenity Zone) to protect Lake Hayes from further deterioration. 

The Society is leading an update of the 1995 Lake Hayes Management Strategy which will be overseen by a Steering Group including FOLH, QLDC, ORC, DOC and iwi. Friends of Lake Hayes has a strategic vision to drive the updating of the existing 1995 strategy and the use of this document to develop a clear vision for the catchment and lake management.  This strategy will then be turned in to a management plan with clear objectives to return the lake, catchment and wildlife habitat to a healthy state. 

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