(A long report today as I have been trapped indoors by flu – probably caught it across the fence from Andrew next door? However this is a very timely report as Turangi have just spent (wasted?) $55,000 on another report to guide their future direction. The latest “Taupo & Turangi Weekender” newspaper reported on the Turangi Economic Development Strategy (TEDS) from their consultants incorporating all the usual buzz words and local “Action Planning Workshop” and face to face interviews with people on their stakeholder list and suggesting a new list of over 30 possible actions with the intention of providing a preliminary draft report. TRM plead guilty of telling them how simple and easy it really is – such as indicated in the following solution.)
We were asked to explain the impact it has on the larger Tongariro Hydro power scheme… but more important is the missed opportunity for local tourism operators – read on.
They had seen the Manapouri underground power station a few years ago and, like many others, were bewildered why this was not open for tourists viewing.
We tried to explain it as NZ’s version of the Snowy Mountain scheme to collect the snow melt and catchment from both sides of the Tongariro National Park and Kaimanawas which originally flowed south (via Wanganui River on the western side and Moawhango on the eastern side) and divert it north into Lake Taupo.
This increased the flow through Lake Taupo by about 20 % (hence the high lake levels ?) to feed about eight more hydro power stations down the Waikato River.
As they were so intrigued, perhaps other inmates may be interested..
The following description was pinched off the Genesis website to explain the extent of the scheme and where the underground power station fits into the picture.
Without some local knowledge of the central plateau geography it is a difficult scheme to describe.
But first (and much more entertaining?) is our description of the local dilemma with the underground power station which was No 1 of our Christmas “wish-list” posts last December, which updated the May 2016 post, repeated below:
Genesis’ Tongariro Power Scheme description
The Tongariro Power Scheme can be divided into four key sections the Eastern Diversion, Western Diversion, Tongariro Section and Rotoaira Section.
The Eastern Diversion extends from the Wahianoa Aqueduct on the southern flanks of Mt Ruapehu, eastward to the Moawhango Dam and north to the discharge point of the Moawhango Tunnel at the Rangipo Dam on the Tongariro River. The major structures in the Eastern Diversion and their purposes are outlined below.
Takes water from tributaries of the Whangaehu River via 22 intakes and delivers it to Lake Moawhango. The Whangaehu River itself is not intercepted as it is naturally acidic, draining from the Crater Lake on Mt Ruapehu. The aqueduct is approximately 8,400m long and is buried underground. It transports water eastward under the Whangaehu River and into the Mangaio Tunnel.
Mangaio Tunnel and Drop Structure (1.8MW)
Water from the Wahianoa aqueduct passes under the Desert Road through the Mangaio Tunnel and either into Mangaio Power Station or a drop structure to enter the Lake Moawhango via the Mangaio Stream. Construction of the Mangaio Power Station began in January 2007 and commissioning began at the end of 2008. When operating, the power station will provide additional generation to the Tongariro Power Scheme of approximately 1.8MW’s of electricity.
The Moawhango Dam dams the Moawhango River and Mangaio Stream to create Lake Moawhango. Lake Moawhango has a normal operating range of approximately 15.2 metres and as such rarely spills except during the largest floods.
Water is taken from Lake Moawhango to the upper Tongariro River by a 19.2km tunnel. The tunnel flow is regulated by a discharge valve at the downstream end of the tunnel where it discharges into the Tongariro River, at Rangipo Dam.
The Western Diversion begins at the Whakapapa River where the water is routed north east via a 16.5km tunnel into Lake Te Whaiau. There are 4 smaller intakes into this tunnel which intercept water from the Tawhitikuri, Okupata, Taurewa, and Mangatepopo streams. Water is also diverted from the Whanganui River into the Te Whaiau Stream, which in turn discharges into Lake Te Whaiau. From Lake Te Whaiau water is discharged into Lake Otamangakau which is then discharged into Lake Rotoaira via the Wairehu Canal.
The Whakapapa Intake
The Whakapapa Intake comprises a concrete gravity dam set into the river bed just below the confluence of the Papamanuka Stream and the Whakapapa River. The intake has a flow capacity of 35 cubic metres per second. Any flow above this amount is passed over the spillway and down its natural course. A minimum flow of 3m3/s is maintained in the river downstream of the intake. Recreational flows are also released from the intake periodically.
Okupata, Taurewa, Mangatepopo and Tawhitikuri Intakes
Intake structures on each of these streams divert all the flow into the Whakapapa – Tawhitikuri – Whanganui Tunnel up to the following design capacities:
- Okupata 2 cubic metres per second
- Taurewa 2 cubic metres per second
- Mangatepopo 5 cubic metres per second
- Tawhitikuri 2 cubic metres per second
A minimum flow downstream of 0.5m3/s is released downstream of Mangatepopo Intake.
Whanganui Intake and Te Whaiau Culvert
The Whanganui Intake diverts water from the Whanganui River via a short tunnel into the Te Whaiau Stream, which then flows into Lake Te Whaiau. A minimum flow of 0.3 m3/s is maintained below this intake constantly.
The Te Whaiau Canal, Lake and Dam
Lake Te Whaiau Canal receives water from the Whakapapa – Tawhitikuri – Whanganui Tunnel and the Te Whaiau culvert. The dam spillway discharges into the old Te Whaiau stream bed.
The Otamangakau Canal, Lake and Dam
The Otamangakau Canal links Lake Te Whaiau to Lake Otamangakau. Lake Otamangakau provides short term storage for the western diversion flows.
The Wairehu Canal
The Wairehu Canal takes water from Lake Otamangakau to Lake Rotoaira. Here it combines with the inflows from the Eastern Diversion.
The Tongariro Section begins at the Waihohonu Intake and Tunnel, which transport water from the Waihohonu Stream to the Rangipo Dam on the Tongariro River. It then extends from the Rangipo Dam northward as far as the Poutu Intake, then North West to the Poutu Tunnel and Poutu Canal as far as the Poutu Dam. Waihohonu Intake and Tunnel takes water from the Waihohonu Stream via a 960 m long tunnel to the Rangipo head pond.
The Tongariro River creates a head pond for the Rangipo Power Station. Water is transported from here to the Rangipo Power Station via a headrace tunnel. A minimum flow of 0.6 m3/s is maintained below the dam to enhance the Blue Duck habitat. Recreational flows are also released from here periodically for sporting activities. For more information view our Rivers, Lakes and Rainfall section.
Rangipo Power Station (120MW underground)
The Rangipo Power Station is 63 m below the ground and was the second underground power station to be built in New Zealand. Rangipo was built underground to minimise the visual effect of the power station on the surrounding environment and the Tongariro River. Rangipo power station has two 60MW generators, and was commissioned in 1983.
Rangipo Tailrace Tunnel
The Rangipo Tailrace Tunnel discharges water from the Rangipo Power Station after electricity generation, through a 3 km tunnel to the Tongariro River, immediately upstream of the Poutu intake.
The Rotoaira Section is the northern-most section of the scheme. It includes Lake Rotoaira, the Tokaanu Intake and Tunnel, Tokaanu Power Station and Tokaanu Tailrace.
Lake Rotoaira lies at an altitude of approximately 564m asl between Mt Tongariro and Mt Pihanga, south west of Lake Taupo. The lake is the reservoir for the Tokaanu Power Station.
Conveys water from the Poutu Dam to Lake Rotoaira.
Tokaanu Intake and Tunnel
Tokaanu intake is at the northern end of Lake Rotoaira. Here the water enters a 6.1 km Tunnel to Tokaanu Power Station.
Tokaanu Power Station (240MW)
The Tokaanu Power Station is a 240MW capacity station situated on the base of Mount Tihia at the southern end of Lake Taupo.
Water from the power station passes into the Tokaanu Tailrace channel, a 3.8km channel that discharges into Lake Taupo at Waihi Bay, west of the Tongariro Delta.
Tokaanu Stream Diversion
The Tokaanu stream diversion was created to preserve the Tokaanu stream (an important trout spawning stream) which crossed the path of the power station tailrace. The stream still crosses the path of the tailrace, but via an aqueduct under the tailrace road bridge.