Marine snail eggs


There are many opportunities to get involved in online and practical projects based around estuaries in New Zealand.

By taking photos of different species and uploading them, you can add valuable sighting information to science research projects and join a community of enthusiasts. You could also contact an estuary care group to find out more about the work they are doing. See our restoring estuaries map

Note: iNaturalist NZ – Mātaki Taiao is an online database that enables observation of the natural world to be recorded, shared and discussed. 

We hope you enjoy exploring our estuaries. A selection of national and local projects is featured below. Contact us on if you would like to have your estuary project featured here.


If you see some animal tracks in the sand or mud you can take a photo and have them automatically identified at NZTracker. The site covers birds, mammals and others. A great way to find out what is visiting the estuary.

Marine eggs

This iNaturalist project was begun to record all eggs or egg cases from marine creatures in New Zealand

Seagrass spotter app

Developed as part of Project Seagrass, this global initiative encourages people to take photos of seagrass (rimurēhia) and upload them via the seagrass spotter app. New Zealand has only one species of seagrass, Zostera muelleri, but there are 50–60 species worldwide.

Straw bales for inanga

Straw bales placed beside streams make good temporary homes for spawning inanga (a species of whitebait). They can also help locate the best places on a stream or riverbank to restore and make into permanent spawning sites.

Using straw bales to restore habitat for inanga

National riparian restoration database

Record the details of riparian (stream-side) planting projects to help NIWA gather information and provide better guidance about stream restoration.

Visit the riparian website for more information and to fill in the survey form. Your project will appear anonymously on the website’s map page.

Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve

This iNaturalist project was begun to record all forms of life in the marine reserve, which includes the Okura River estuary. The estuary extends inland for 4 km and its muddy waters host mangrove forests and saltmarsh.

Motu Manawa-Pollen Island Marine Reserve

This iNaturalist project was begun to record all forms of life in the marine reserve, which includes large areas of tidal flats.

Te Matuku Marine Reserve

This iNaturalist project was begun to record all forms of life in the marine reserve, which protects Te Matuku Bay of Waiheke island.

Onoke Lagoon

This iNaturalist project was begun as a community project to protect and enhance the biodiversity of the coastal lagoon.

Porirua Harbour

This iNaturalist project was begun to record all life present in the Onepoto Arm and Pāuatahanui Inlet of Te Awarua o Porirua Harbour.

Reef herons

These dark grey birds have a Nationally Endangered conservation status in New Zealand with a population of 300–500 birds. Project Hotspot in Taranaki has tracked local birds by the individual black markings on their legs. If you are photographing the birds, try to record their leg markings.

Marine Meter Squared

This project is designed to enable school children and teachers to record the marine life in a square metre all around New Zealand’s coastline. 


eBird is the world’s largest biodiversity-related citizen science project. If you like spotting birds you can join this global online community by adding your lists, photos and audio recordings. You can see real-time maps of species distribution and get alerts that let you know when species have been seen.


Estuaries are great places for bioblitzes. These are like a big scavenger hunt where a group or community create an inventory of all the plants and animals they can find at a site. There are a lot of previous estuary events you can use for inspiration.

King Tides

Become a coastal time traveller and help us see the future impacts of sea level rise on our coastline. Grab your camera and photograph the next King Tide event at your local spot anywhere around New Zealand. Your photos will help planning for, and understanding future changes to, our coast. These events can cause much damage but healthy estuary margins can protect our assets.

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