Rusting remains of the Waverley ship on the Wairau Lagoons Walkway

Image: Ricky Wilson | Creative Commons


This flat loop track, ideal for kids, follows the lagoon shoreline with good bird watching to the rusting remains of the Waverley ship.

Track overview

Walking and tramping

3 hr Easy: Walking track

Dog access

No dogs

About this track


This walk gives an insight into the lagoons and the habitat they provide. The walk is virtually flat. It makes a loop from the carpark along the shoreline of the upper lagoon and past Budges and Moerepo Islands to the lagoons' main channel where the rusting hulk of the Waverley sits in the mud.

The Waverley was towed from Wellington by the SS Wairau to the mouth of the Wairau River where she was to be sunk to form a breakwater. Before being scuttled, she was swept up the channel in a flood to where she now lies, in the Wairau Lagoons.

Return either the same way or, more directly, across the saltmarsh area, with its salt resistant plants. Alternatively, it is possible to continue beyond the Waverley for a view of the river.

Getting there

The main access point is from the end of Hardings Road, which leaves State Highway 1, 5 km south of Blenheim. There is a carpark and information.

Nature and conservation

The Wairau lagoons have formed over the last 6,500 years behind a 8 km-long boulder bank created from gravel and stones washed up the coast by sea currents. Water from the surrounding hills gathers behind the boulder bank and combines with the tide flushing in and out each day.

Specialised plants and animals have colonised habitats between the high and low water marks, some of which are more 'productive' than the best pasture.

There are plenty of birds to see here – a bird book and pair of binoculars would be a useful addition to your equipment.

History and culture

The productivity of the Wairau lagoons drew Maori to hunt for food. It is thought that some of the channels have been made or extended to help trap moulting birds or eels.

Evidence from the boulder bank confirms some very early camps were made there and where the now-extinct moa were hunted and eaten.

Know before you go

  • Hot, dry conditions and strong, cold winds are common in this area.  
  • Open fires are not permitted at any of the East Coast reserves and only portable stoves should be used for cooking. 
  • Watch out for wasps, especially in late summer and autumn.


Wairau / Renwick Office
Phone:   +64 3 572 9100
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   Gee Street
Marlborough 7204
Postal Address:   PO Box 51
Marlborough 7243
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