SkyTEM equipment We’re taking to the sky to understand our aquifers better 

From 29 January to 5 March 2023 we used a helicopter to fly equipment over the Ruamāhanga Valley to scan aquifers from the air. An aquifer is a layer of gravel or sand that holds or transports water below ground.  

If you were in the area during this time, you might have seen a helicopter carrying a large hoop hanging from cables - around 50-metres above the ground.   

This technology is safe for people and animals. It’s safer than everyday activities like watching an LCD or plasma TV or blow-drying your hair.  

We collected a huge amount of data during these flights. So much that it will take two years to analyse the data and develop a 3D map of the Ruamāhanga Valley’s aquifers. When complete, this map will be available to everyone online on our website.  

This work is critical. Climate change projections say Wairarapa’s average temperatures will keep increasing over the coming decades, potentially resulting in water shortages.   

The insights we gain from this project will help us better understand the interconnections between groundwater and surface water and make better decisions about water.   

Thanks to SkyTEM for conducting this survey using their technology, which has been used successfully all over the world. That includes here in Hawke’s Bay and in sensitive environments like the Galapagos Islands and Antarctica. Now that SkyTEM has finished collecting data on Wairarapa aquifers, GNS Science will process it and build a 3D aquifer map.    

This project is funded by Greater Wellington, Kānoa - Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit, Carterton District Council, Masterton District Council and South Wairarapa District Council.   

Watch to find out more

Find out about the project

See the SkyTEM helicopter in action

Learn about the science

Updated March 17, 2023 at 3:46 PM

Get in touch

0800 496 734