The second largest bog and swamp complex in the North Island is an outstanding site for promoting the value of wetlands and species conservation, such as Australasian bittern/matuku.

Whangamarino Wetlands from the air. Photo.
Whangamarino wetland


To ensure that it remains so, the Department is implementing wetland conservation initiatives under the Arawai Kākāriki wetland restoration programme .


These initiatives aim to:

  • Maintain or enhance water regimes,water quality and the condition of wetland habitat,
  • Maintain and enhance species diversity, including threatened species,
  • Increase community awareness and appreciation of the value of the wetlands,
  • Maximise community involvement in management, restoration and sustainable land use,
  • Improve facilities and opportunities for the public to visit the site,
  • Increase understanding of wetland function and management to develop good wetland restoration and monitoring tools.

The Department's highest priority for this site is protection of the fen and peat bog type of wetland,


Action to date includes:

  • Fencing wetland boundary to exclude livestock.
  • Finding  and controlling plant pests.
  • Intensive trapping of animal pests in the Northern part of the Wetland.
  • Restoring areas bordering the wetland which have been retired from grazing.
  • Advocating for wetland protection through education and statutory processes.
  • Maintaining and monitoring  the Whangamarino Weir, designed to retain proper groundwater level, so preventing summer dryness of swamp and marsh areas,  dessication of the fen and bog areas and loss of wildlife habitat. 

Research and monitoring

A key learning outcome under the Arawai Kākāriki wetland restoration programme is to increase understanding of wetland function and management in order to develop good wetland restoration and monitoring tools, not just for Whangamarino Wetland but for wetlands generally.

Monitoring mustelids in Whangamarino Wetland
Monitoring mustelids in Whangamarino Wetland

The following research and monitoring is being undertaken in Whangamarino: 

  • Hydrological monitoring to help understand the wetland system and develop forecasting ability. Hydrology also has important implications for weed management, nutrient inputs and sediment deposition.
  • Sediment deposition monitoring to identify the main areas of deposition and the causes to enable better preventative management.
  • Monitoring of black mudfish and other native fish to create an inventory of the species and numbers present in the wetland.
  • Monitoring of cryptic birds (Australasian bittern, marsh crake, spotless crake, fernbird) to develop effective monitoring protocols.
  • A four year research programme monitoring animal pests such as cats, mustelids and rats to validate small mammal monitoring techniques in a wetland environment. WaxTags® as a method of measuring rodent and hedgehog abundance and camera traps for dectecting the carnivores are being tested.
  • Vegetation plot monitoring to assess the condition of wetland plants.
  • Willow spraying trials (in conjunction with Landcare Research and NIWA) to evaluate the effects of spray on vegetation and aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates.

This will provide scientific data and baseline information for future management, both at this site and for application at other wetland sites (where applicable).

Read the Whangamarino Outcomes Report 2007-2011 (PDF, 8045K) from the Arawai Kākāriki Wetland Restoration Programme.

Community awareness and involvement

The Arawai Kākāriki wetland restoration programme has highlighted the need to do more to increase community awareness and appreciation of the value of wetlands; to maximize community involvement in management, restoration and sustainable land use and in particular, to engage and involve iwi in management of the wetland; and to improve facilities and opportunities for the public to visit Whangamarino.

Action to date includes:

  • Site visits to the wetland by iwi representatives.
  • Discussions with the hunting fraternity.
  • A community survey undertaken to gain an understanding of how the community perceives and interacts with the wetland and the organisation involved in management.
  • Community focus groups held to determine how DOC can better engage with residents in the Whangamarino area. The findings will feed into a communication strategy to encourage greater community involvement with the restoration and ongoing health of the wetland.
  • Establishment of a page for Whangamarino Wetland on Wikipedia 
  •  Display panel at Te Kauwhata
    Display panel at Te Kauwhata
    Production of an information sheet on the Whangamarino Wetland Arawai Kākāriki project.
  • Production of a brochure Mucking in for mudfish.
  • Production of a wetland sticker book as an educational learning tool.
  • Planting inititiatives with schools, hunters, Te Kauri Trust and other groups.
  • Maintenance of two public boat ramps and car park areas with signage - including warnings about pest plants and fish in both English and simplified Chinese characters.
  • Installation of a display panel in Te Kauwhata township profiling the Whangamarino Wetland and the Arawai Kākāriki project.

What can you do?

If you live near the wetland or are a regular visitor, there are a number of things that can be done to help protect the wetland:

  • Farmers can make a difference by ensuring their farming practices align with the actions. described in the Waikato Regional Council's Guidelines for landowners in peat lake catchments
  • Fishers can catch koi carp and catfish, which they must kill (it is illegal to release live fish).
  • Duckshooters can help control weeds and ensure maimais comply with standards.
  • Visitors should ensure that any footwear or gear is clean and that you are not carrying seeds or particles of weed species.
  • Visitors should adopt a take in, take home policy in relation to their rubbish.

There is scope, as part of the ecological restoration of Whangamarino, for organised groups to get involved in planting native trees and shrubs and also pest control programmes to protect bird populations.

If you are interested in establishing a care group for an area of the wetland, we would love to hear from you.


 Phone: +64 7 858 1000

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