Kopuatai Peat Dome

Ramsar site no. 444, listed 4 December 1989
Location: Hauraki Plains, 70 km northeast of Hamilton

Kopuatai Peat Dome at 10,201ha, is the largest unaltered restiad peat bog in New Zealand and is also unique globally.

Clubmoss. Photo: Peter James de Lange.
Clubmoss

The area is gazetted as a Wetland Management Reserve under the Conservation Act 1987 and managed by the Department of Conservation.

There are two main wetland types included in the Ramsar site – peatland and mineralised wetland. The peatland is acidic and low in nutrients with a hydrological regime dominated by rainfall. In contrast, the mineralised areas bounding the bog’s western margins are influenced by nutrient enrichment from the Piako and Waitoa Rivers.

The physical features of the peat dome and in particular the mineralised swamps play an important role in flood control and protection as they provide storage for floodwater from the Piako and Waitoa catchments.

The endemic greater jointed rush, Sporadanthus ferrugineus, dominates peatland vegetation, covering approximately 2000 hectares. Other notable flora include the vulnerable clubmoss, Lycopodium serpentinum and an ecologically important remnant of kahikatea (Dacrycarpus dacrydioides) forest in the southwest corner of Kopuatai. The outer edges of the peatbog have been invaded by willow (Salix sp) and a great diversity of dicot herbs.

Lake Patetonga. Photo: John Greenwood.
Wildfowl over Lake Patetonga

Fifty four species of birds have been recorded in Kopuatai (27 protected, 17 unprotected and 10 game birds). The threatened Australasian bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus) is found in the wetland along with banded rail (Rallus philipensis assimillis), marsh crake (Porzana pusilla affinis) and the North Island fernbird (Bowdleria punctata vealeae).\

The waters of Kopuatai contain a number of important fish species including black mudfish (Neochanna diversus) and the endemic long finned eels (Anguilla dieffencachii).

Conservation measures undertaken include hydrological monitoring, control of mammalian pests (possum and deer), plant pests (willow and aquatic grasses), fencing to exclude stock, restoration planting and gamebird habitat restoration.