Water in real time: Irrigation NZ

Jul 07, 2020

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Being able to see weather conditions of lakes and rivers from the comfort of your living room is now a possibility. Brett Colgan from Ashburton, Canterbury has always been a passionate fisherman and had always had this great idea of live streaming waterways so people can check safety and weather conditions before even leaving home. It is now a reality after he started his business, Outdoor Access in late February this year. Mr Colgan whose day job was for Midlands Seeds working in international sales, said it was very rewarding finally being able to turn his great idea into a reality.

“You can often be sitting at home wanting to get out and do something and then you get there and it’s blowing a freezing cold southerly and its too dangerous to do any activities, this way you can check the conditions before you even leave home.” Currently, there were 14 sites set up around Canterbury, the Mackenzie, and North Otago but, Mr Colgan said there were plans to move into other areas. “We’ve just started small but, we hope to get into more areas in the near future, we currently focus on recreation but, we hope to expand into other areas of expertise.”

Mr Colgan said starting up the business was not as simple as just putting cameras up, and it was a two-year process before the website was launched. “We had to work with regional and local councils as well as Fish and Game to make sure we were meeting all the rules, we also talked to farmers and locals to make sure we were getting a fair representation of the different lakes and rivers not just putting them anywhere.” The camera sites were located on both public and private land. “It was great to work with farmers who allowed us to set up the sites on their land, some really genuine people who were interested in helping us start out our adventure.”

The video sites are fully self-sufficient from 100 percent solar power, and in the summer would operate for almost 24 hours however, currently, they ran between 5am and 5pm due to daylight hours. Mr Colgan said everyone had a different opinion on freshwater in New Zealand and everyone experienced it in different ways, and he hoped this would encourage people to get out and enjoy it. “Freshwater is important for all of us, I’d really encourage people to get out and enjoy it and create their own experiences from it, and I hope this also makes it safer to do so.” He said one of the biggest challenges of starting Outdoor Access was that it was a whole new industry and there was nothing to compare it to.

“It’s a brand-new industry, banks had nothing to compare against, so I had to prove it’s worth.”

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