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  • A water catchment is an area of land and the water that collects and moves through it. Catchments influence the biodiversity and ecology of stream and river systems. One way to view catchments is with a topographic map, which shows the natural and cultural features of an area.

    In this activity, students use an online topographic map to view their local catchment area(s) and consider how elevation, vegetation, land use and human activities influence waterways. It provides practice with the science capability ‘Interpret representations’.

    By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

    • locate an area of interest on an online topographic map
    • identify some of the local features on the topographic map
    • consider how features such as relief and vegetation influence water movement and water flows in a chosen catchment
    • consider how human influences might or do impact water in the chosen catchment
    • use content vocabulary associated with water catchments and topographic maps

    Download the Word file (see link below).

    Related content

    Use this interactive to find out more about river catchments – both large and small – and where we fit with our local water catchments. It contains useful background information and additional hands-on activities. It contains the activity Buidling a model catchment.

    Useful links

    These links have maps and catchment information for some New Zealand regional councils:


    This article has been developed in partnership with the Waikato Regional Council as part of the Rivers and Us resource.

      Published 5 March 2020 Referencing Hub articles
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