Addressing water exploration, quality and management.


Groundwater accounts for roughly 30% of New Zealand’s water usage and is essential for environmental integrity, social well-being and economic productivity. 

At GNS Science Hydrogeology Department, our research and research-based consultancy address the critical issues facing groundwater resource management:

How have/will human activities, climate change and other pressures affect New Zealand's groundwater resources?

  • What are the hydrogeological and structural characteristics of NZ's aquifer systems?
  • What factors are key to maintaining groundwater quality in New Zealand?
  • What are the fluxes of key substances into, out of and through NZ's aquifers?
  • What are the fluxes of water into, out of and through NZ's aquifers?
  • How can we ensure that stakeholders will use our research results appropriately and efficiently?
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Research Programmes

SMART Aquifer Characterisation (SAC)

The SAC research programme aims to develop a suite of innovative methods for rapid and cost-effective characterisation of New Zealand’s groundwater systems. SMART is an acronym for Save Money and Reduce Time.

Groundwater Resource of New Zealand (GWR)

The GWR programme objectives include: national monitoring of NZ groundwater quality; characterisation of groundwater systems including economics and policy; and application of age tracers and isotopes for understanding the dynamics of hydrologic systems.

Tracer Validation in Hydrogeology (TVH)

This programme aims to improve groundwater models by calibration and validation using hydrochemical, temperature and age tracer data. This programme includes case study areas in the Bay of Plenty, Wellington and Southland regions.

Ka Tu Te Taniwha – Ka Ora Te Tangata

The Ka Tu Te Taniwha – Ka Ora Te Tangata project aims to understand the impacts of development in the Awahou groundwater catchment to ensure the health and wellbeing of the Ngati Rangiwewehi people.

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Project Examples

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Mapping Groundwater Discharge Into Rivers Using Radon
Understanding how surface waters and groundwaters interact is an integral component of managing the influence of nutrient inputs to water quality. The aim of this research was to establish the potential of radon for measuring groundwater and river water interaction in two North Island, New Zealand gravel bed rivers. Test studies were carried out in the Hutt and Mangatainoka Rivers in the lower North Island.

3D Geological Models – Earth Beneath our Feet

Assessments of geology to identify aquifers in three dimensional models of geology for a range of clients.

More project examples

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Water Dating Laboratory

GNS Science Water Dating Laboratory has been rated the most accurate tritium water dating lab world-wide, the Dating Laboratory has 55 years of experience in high-sensitivity, ultra-low concentration tritium analysis. Find out more about Water Dating Laboratory

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Database and Tools

Use GNS Science database, maps, applications and free downloads to aid your groundwater research.

GNS Groundwater and Geothermal Database (GGW)

Free tools for download including:

  • Spreadsheet for automatic statistical analysis of water quality data
  • Capture Zone delineation simple methods spreadsheet
  • Groundwater capture zone GIS toolkit

Aquifer and geological maps of New Zealand

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Groundwater-Surface Water Interaction Workshop
Held between 31st August - 1st September 2015, Wellington, this workshop brought together researchers and water managers
to discuss GW-SW interaction and share approaches for its measurement and management.

3 million MBIE fund awarded to "Smart Model for Aquifer Management" research programme
Catherine Moore and her research team for hydrogeology Department, GNS Science, has been awarded $3 million from the Environment Fund for a three-year project "Smart Model for Aquifer Management" in the 2015 MBIE Science Investment Fund.

Our Team

Our team of specialists in hydrogeology, isotopic sciences, geophysics, computer modelling and groundwater chemistry.

Please contact us with any inquiries you may have.

More Info...

Click here to read about our 2015-2016 research outputs

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