They support a diversity of wildlife, including local and migratory waders, seabirds, waterfowl, and native fish, and some rare and threatened native flora.
Archaeological sites highlight the spiritual and traditional important of wetlands to Maori as areas for food gathering.
These protected sections of once expansive wetlands include examples of intact forest sucession, allowing us to experience what our natural landscape was like before agricultural, horticultural and urban development.
For every recognised iconic wetland there are several, smaller more fragmented wetlands that can be just as valuable to the wider wetland ecology. That there are are now so few remaining makes it even more important to protect what we have left.
The Pencarrow Lakes are New Zealand’s last remaining, relatively unmodified wetlands, despite their close proximity to Wellington and Hutt cities.
The lakes, wetlands and raised beaches together support regionally-threatened native plants, native fish and wetland birds. It's the only area in the Wellington region where banded dotterel nest on the open sand.
Visit Pencarrow Lakes
This restored wetland on Mana Island, off Wellington's west coast, is home to shags, shelducks and the nationally-threatened goldstripe gecko.
The name Waikoko or “water of many tui [koko]” suggests the area was once full of flowering harakeke (flax), surrounded by kowhai trees and enlivened with the song of tui. Tui bones were the most abundant of bird remains found in an archaeological excavation of a 15th century midden site by the stream mouth.
Visit Waikoko wetland on Mana Island
Waikanae Estuary Scientific Reserve is connected to the Kapiti Marine Reserve and to Kapiti Island Nature Reserve, providing a rare sequence of protection for animals which move between sea, river and land habitats.
This nationally-significant reserve protects a natural mosaic of freshwater lakelets, saltwater lagoons and marshes, tidal sand flats and sandy beach at the mouth of the Waikanae River.
Visit Waikanae Estuary
Pauatahanui Inlet is the most extensive relatively unmodified estuarine area in the southern part of the North Island. The area around the inlet has been inhabited for at least the last 600 years and the area is rich with wahi tapu, archaeological sites, and historic places.
Visit Pauatahanui Inlet