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River Features: Activities

Identifying river features

The Be River Safe video (below) explains the features you find in a river. It includes some simple animation to show what is happening under the water.


  • Watch the Be River Safe video.
  • Go through each feature and discuss them using:
    • the video footage
    • the factsheets and
    • any photographs or footage you have of features in a local river or local rivers.

Internet challenge - recognising river features

  • Your challenge is to find three examples of each river feature on photographs of New Zealand rivers that you can locate on the internet. The super challenge is to identify features on photographs of rivers in your area or region, but you may have to extend your photograph search to include all New Zealand rivers.
  • Select your best example of each feature and share it with someone else. Decide which photograph best illustrates the river feature and why.

Understanding the features of our local rivers

  • Organise a trip to the local river where a local expert can show you the features of the river and explain the dangers and opportunities the features present to a range of river users including kayakers and swimmers or people who accidently end up in the water.
  • Use the factsheet: PLANNING A TRIP to plan your trip to the river.
  • If you cannot visit the river, invite a local expert to come and explain features of your local river(s) to you. Prepare questions to ask your visitor.

Explaining river features to others

  • Work in groups and prepare a presentation (PowerPoint or visual display) that explains each of the river features and the risks they pose for a specific river user like a kayaker, a swimmer or someone who accidentally ends up in the river. Where possible use photographs or illustrations and text that relates to your local river(s).

Reading the river

Think you’ve got the hang of reading the river? In rivers a bit of knowledge can be dangerous.

Most of us underestimate the force of water and the dangers of river features like strainers, and weirs. When you are in or on the river, go with a local expert and learn to read the river better.

Recognising and understanding river features is a skill we need to learn and practice continuously so we are safe in, on or around rivers.


Understanding the water flow

  • Identify the river features in each of these photographs.
  • Use coloured arrows to show what is happening to the flow of water in each of these photographs.



River features identification sheet

  • Identify and name the features you can see in the illustration.
  • Identify a place you would investigate to see if it was suitable
    • for a river crossing
    • to swim.
  • Decide if this river would be suitable for kayaking and give reasons for your decision.



River Features - Activities

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Original generation time 1.7418 seconds.