Ōpaoa River

Coordinates: 41°30′25″S 174°03′00″E / 41.5069°S 174.0500°E / -41.5069; 174.0500
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ōpaoa River
Opawa River
The Ōpaoa River running through Blenheim
Native nameŌpaoa (Māori)
CountryNew Zealand
Physical characteristics
 • location
Big Lagoon
 • coordinates
41°30′25″S 174°03′00″E / 41.5069°S 174.0500°E / -41.5069; 174.0500
Basin features
ProgressionOmaka River → Ōpaoa River
 • rightFairhall River, Taylor River

The Ōpaoa River, formerly called the Opawa River, is in the Marlborough region of the South Island of New Zealand. It begins in the Wairau valley where floodways are joined. It makes its way down the valley and flows through and looping around the eastern suburbs of Blenheim where it is crossed by the Opawa River Bridge. It joins the Taylor River in Blenheim (keeping the Ōpaoa name) and flows into Big Lagoon, the estuary it shares with the southern mouth of the Wairau River at Cloudy Bay.

There are two possible sources for the river's name. It might have been named after the chief Paoa. Rangitāne iwi say that the name Ōpaoa literally means smoky river. With Blenheim built on swampy land, the river was often brown (or 'smoky') as a consequence.[1] In August 2014, the name of the river was officially altered to Ōpaoa River.[2]


  1. ^ Reed, A.W. (2010). Peter Dowling (ed.). Place Names of New Zealand. Rosedale, North Shore: Raupo. p. 288. ISBN 978-0-14-320410-7.
  2. ^ "NZGB decisions". Land Information New Zealand. August 2014. Archived from the original on 21 November 2015. Retrieved 7 November 2015.