Finish line in sight for massive effort to remove 135,000kg of rubbish from West Coast's Fox River

A massive effort to clean up around 135,000kg of rubbish in a West Coast river will finish up on Sunday.

Days of heavy rain in March caused a historic Westland District Council dumpsite to rip open and pour into Fox River. 

Spirits were high as the monumental volunteer effort to clean up the river hits its final hours.

"All we've got left is just a secondary sweep through the worst area to pick up the pieces that might have been missed," said incident controller Owen Kilgour.

The equivalent to 13,000 household bags of rubbish has been picked up from the 21km river and 64km south Westland coastline.

The Department of Conservation (DoC) took Operation Tidy Fox off local council's hands in June and a massive social media push saw people from all over the country come flooding to help.

"So far more than 850 people have signed up, which have given us more than 3000 volunteer days on the river," said Kilgour.

That's not forgetting the 130 Defence Force personnel who've also been on the job with 20 vehicles and a chopper, alongside DoC staff and Taskforce Green days.

"We've been blown away by how many people are passionate about this cleanup and want to come here and give us a hand and clean up the environment."

Over the weekend, around 200 volunteers are taking part in the final push.

Otago University has sent buses with 74 students.

It's satisfying work, every little bit of rubbish found is a small victory.

Once the volunteer effort finishes up on Sunday, DoC staff and NZDF will remain to demobilise the operation.