Discover a world of wonderful wet places, perfect for walks, boating, canoeing, bird watching and fishing.
For Māori, wetlands are taonga or valued treasures, places from which plants can be collected for food, medicines and weaving.
A short history
Auckland’s low-lying western suburbs were once full of cabbage trees and flax swamps, and inhabited by weka, banded rail, bittern and pūkeko. Wetlands formed here when lava flows blocked streams, or in volcanic craters and ponds on lava flow depressions
Today Auckland has an estimated 3,700ha of freshwater wetlands and 14,000ha of estuarine wetland, along with over 30 lakes and 10,000km of rivers and streams.
Here are three of our favourite wetlands. For a full guide to Auckland's wetlands download the pdf brochure.
1. Whatipu Scientific Reserve
A spectacular area of coastal dunes and wetlands on Auckland’s rugged west coast. Whatipu is a Department of Conservation scientific reserve, managed by Auckland Council.
You can walk the coastline or bush tracks, taking in the freshwater wetlands and salt marsh vegetation along the way. Look out for the New Zealand dotterel.
2. Tāhuna Tōrea
Coastal forest surrounds freshwater wetlands, with saltmarsh and mangroves along the coastal edges. A sand bank extends out into the Tāmaki Estuary which you can walk at low tide.
The area is renowned for bird watching opportunities; you’ll find mallards, pūkeko, white faced heron and black swans in the wetland year round. You’ll also see oystercatchers, godwits and other migratory wader birds between November and March.
3. Tomarata Lakes
Lake Tomarata is a popular swimming and boating location. These wetland areas are best explored by kayak. The wetlands support many threatened bird and plant species such as fernbird, bittern and banded rail.