Waituna Lagoon & Awarua Wetlands
One of the largest remaining wetland complexes in New Zealand, the lagoon and wetlands provide a vital refuge for rare birds and threatened plants.
One of the largest remaining wetland complexes in New Zealand, the Waituna Lagoon and Awarua Wetlands is hugely important for its biological diversity and cultural values.
The lagoon and the surrounding 20,000 hectares of wetlands area was one of the first in New Zealand to be officially recognised as a wetland of international importance. A 3500 hectare section of the wetlands, known as the Waituna Wetland Scientific Reserve, was listed as part of New Zealand’s obligations when signing the Ramsar Wetland Convention; an international convention that promotes the wise or sustainable use of wetlands. The site includes four major wetland types: coastal lagoons, freshwater swamps, extensive peatlands, and estuaries. Each ecosystem is unique and maintained by different ecological processes.
The wetlands provide a vital refuge for rare bird species, including the Southern New Zealand Dotterel (Tūturiwhatu), Marsh Crake (Koitareke), Fernbird (Mātātā) and Australasian Bittern (Matuku). The area is also visited frequently by many different trans-equatorial migrating and wading bird species, attracting rare visitors to New Zealand such as the Siberian Tattler, Greenshank and Sanderling. Most of the migratory waders are present only from October to late March, but some of the more common species are present through the winter as well. Many threatened plants and insects, as well as wildfowl, native fish and trout, also call the area home.
So bring your binoculars and spot rare birds, enjoy the easy walking tracks, explore the margins of the lagoon in a kayak or small boat, or just soak in the amazing and unique sights at this important natural site.
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