Leatham River

Last Modified: 21-2-2019 9:38

Leatham River
Leatham River

The Leatham River is one part of the Branch-Leatham river system that feeds into the Wairau in the upper Wairau Valley. The river is 40km long, from its source below the Severn Saddle, to its confluence with the Branch River. Much of the Leatham catchment is within the Leatham Conservation Area, administered by the Department of Conservation. A four wheel drive track follows the river for a considerable distance to the Bottom Gordon Hut. The valley is forested with beech forest, but towards the head of the valley, forest is replaced by subalpine habitat. Invasive wilding conifers are a problem in the valley. Small numbers of brown trout are found in the river. In a Marlborough District Council inventory of 39 Marlborough Rivers1, the Leatham was evaluated to have the second highest natural values behind only the Goulter River in Mount Richmond Forest Park.

On the true right of the river, are several exposed outcrops of limestone from the lower Tertiary period, with associated unique vegetation.2


  1.  Bentley, J., Bishop, S., Marshall, A., McAuslin, B., Hawes, P., & Hamill, P. (2014, May). The Natural Character of selected Marlborough Rivers and their margins [Pdf]. Boffa Miskell.
  2. Williams, P. A. (1983, November). Vegetation of limestone outcrops in the Leatham valley, Marlborough [Pdf]. Botany Division, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.