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7 Ways to Protect New Zealand’s Lakes and Rivers

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Keep New Zealand’s lakes and rivers clean.

3,820 lakes are scattered across New Zealand, many of which are simply mind blowing. Understandably, locals, tourists and backpackers do what they can to keep New Zealand’s lakes and rivers clean. Whether you’re out hiking or just doing your laundry, join the cause by following the points discussed in this article! That way, you can contribute toward protecting New Zealand’s lakes and rivers.

For more ways to travel in an eco-friendly way, check out Be Green When Backpacking in New Zealand.

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1. Clean your hiking shoes

There are some freshwater pests, more commonly didymo, that have found their way into New Zealand’s waterways. To clean shoes effectively after a hike walking through water: remove obvious dirt from your shoes; clean with a bit of biodegradable detergent mixed with water; and dry your shoes completely.

What is the environmental impact? Didymo affects insects that are a food source for fish, makes the riverbed slippery, and can be hazardous for hydroelectric power generation, irrigation and recreation.
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2. Turn off the tap when not in use

It could be as easy as turning the tap off when you brush your teeth or having shorter showers. This helps prevent water shortages and means there is less contaminated water that will need treatment. For more ways to be eco-friendly in hostels or other accommodation in New Zealand, see here.

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3. Don’t litter

We all know littering is moronic, but some litterbugs still exist. Littering in a lake or river looks pollutes the water and just looks nasty!

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4. Use eco-friendly detergent

Choose washing detergent without phosphates or compounds with phosphorus (P). This is because these ingredients have excess volumes of nutrients, which can cause algal blooms a.k.a freshwater pests.

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5. Wash clothes and utensils away from the river

For the same polluting detergent and soap reasons discussed above, don’t wash your clothes in rivers or lakes. If you need to wash anything while in the backcountry, wash far away from the water source. Drain the used water in the soil. For more best practices for camping in New Zealand, see The 12 Golden Rules of Driving in New Zealand.

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6. Better yet, use biodegradable soap!

Use soap with none of those nasty chemicals.

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7. Use toilet facilities

Rather than using the river or lake, refrain yourself from contaminating the lake by using toilets. Backcountry campsites and huts usually have these facilities, if your out hiking in the wilderness.

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