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Wellington Regional Integrated Buoy Observations Programme

Wellington Regional Integrated Buoy Observations Programme

Updated 7 December 2021 4:27pm

Wellington coastal buoy moored in Wellington Harbour (Photo: Stu Mackay, NIWA).

What is the Wellington Regional Integrated Buoy Observations (WRIBO)?

This high-tech surface buoy and string of instruments was deployed in July 2017 southeast of Matiu/Somes Island as part of the WRIBO programme. WRIBO delivers real-time,  publically available data on currents, waves, wind, salinity, temperature, sediment, oxygen, and chlorophyll.

The buoy is positioned within the plume of the biggest freshwater inflow into Wellington Harbour, the Hutt River, to help us make links between freshwater and marine environments and to assess the impacts of land-based activities on water quality.

WRIBO is a joint programme with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) who service the instruments and manage the data.

WRIBO’s features

This high-visibility yellow buoy is three metres high and powered by solar panels. WRIBO is fitted with a variety of instruments to analyse harbour conditions at different depths.

After periods of heavy rain, plumes from the Hutt River carry sediment and nutrients from the Hutt catchment to Wellington Harbour. These river plumes are generally only one to two metres thick, so an instrument is positioned just below the surface of the water. 

Additional instruments throughout the water column and close to the seabed to measure changes in water quality and the speed and direction of water movement.

The data is available, you can access it here!

A key focus for us is making the data accessible to the public in near real-time. In the longer term, we and our partners are working towards collating data from other buoys across New Zealand to form a national network.

The newest addition to this network includes WRIBO-K, ‘sister’ to WRIBO, set to record data near the Kāpiti Marine Reserve to provide a three-year water quality dataset and designed to capture the influence of the Ōtaki, Manawatu and Waikanae rivers on marine water quality.

A data report summary for Wellington’s WRIBO is available on the Annual Data Reports webpage. To view and download WRIBO’s data, go to the Marine Water Quality section of the Environmental Monitoring webpage, and select your measurement of interest from the drop-down list.

This displays data from the surface wave station, as well as water quality data from instruments sitting just below the surface. Please note that these data are in raw form and have not undergone quality control processing.

Data from other depths will come online soon, so watch this space!

For more information email: