South Island Rowing, Lake Ruataniwha and the Meridian Rowing Centre – a brief history of the place, people and organisations who have helped make it happen.
South Island Rowing
South Island Rowing Inc was formed by four South Island Rowing Associations – Marlborough, Canterbury, Otago and Southland. The organisation was established after Max Smith, Project Manager for the Ministry of Works on the Upper Waitaki hydro-electric scheme, promoted the idea of a rowing course as part of the earthworks needed to create Ruataniwha hydro lake. The rest is history. South Island Rowing continues to develop and manage the rowing facilities at the lake, and now trades as Ruataniwha Rowing to more accurately reflect the location.
Lake Ruataniwha is part of a network of hydro storage lakes, canals and electricity generation stations developed in the Waitaki area during the 1970’s, and 1980’s. Most of the hydro facilities are now owned and operated by Meridian Energy, and Ruataniwha Rowing is greatful to principal sponsor Meridian for its ongoing interest and support.
Lake Ruataniwha has a 2000 metre, purpose-built rowing course, with eight lanes that are fully buoyed throughout the year. The lake was named after Ruataniwha Station, a large, local sheep station. Part of the station was purchased by the former NZ Electricity Department to build the nearby town of Twizel, originally established to house hydro construction workers. The station owes its name to Maori chief Ruataniwha who drowned when the canoe Arai-te-uru sank near Moeraki in the 12th century.
The Meridian Rowing Centre
Lake Ruataniwha, and the Meridian Rowing Centre are approximately 3.5 hour drive south of Christchurch. Situated in the panoramic MacKenzie District, near Aoraki/Mount Cook, this alpine area is known for extreme heat or cold conditions, any time of the year.
Set on the shores of the lake, the Meridian Rowing Centre offers a range of facilities for hire, . including accommodation for up to 70 people, lecture theatre, seminar room, relaxing lounge facilities and a hall for social functions. Food and refreshments are available on arrangement with the catering manager.
The centre and rowing course are 100% run by volunteers, and Ruataniwha Rowing is proud to be the only rowing organisation in New Zealand to own and manage this type of facility and the flexibility this provides. A great variety of club, association and national events are held at the venue each regatta season. Ruataniwha Rowing welcomes enquiries from parties interested in using the venue as a training base in the build-up to these events. The venue may also be hired for non-rowing purposes, subject to availability. Please contact Ruataniwha Rowing for details.