Bar-tailed godwits

Image: Sergey Yeliseev | Creative Commons


Walk Motueka Sandspit, an internationally recognised site for local and migrant shorebirds.

Track overview

Walking and tramping

Easy: Walking track

Dog access

No dogs

About this track


Motueka sandspit is part of the Motueka River delta, which consists of the sandspit, the rivermouth, and the 'Kumaras' estuary.

Getting there

Access to the Motueka River delta is at the end of Staples Street, just north of Motueka, or along the foreshore from the old Motueka wharf.

From Staples Street the sandspit separates off from the "mainland" after about 400 metre stroll south down the walkway, and from the old Motueka wharf it's closer to 1400 metres before you get to the spit's base.

A signpost marks the start of the walk.

Nature and conservation

The Motueka River delta is formed of sediments from the Motueka and Riwaka Rivers, swept into continually changing shapes by the sea.

The whole area is ecologically important. It has extensive areas of rushland and saltmarsh where whitebait spawn; it is rich in shellfish and therefore a major feeding ground for wading birds, up to 10,000 of which feed or roost on the sandspit in summer.


This site is considered internationally important (under the Ramsar convention for wetlands) because of the numbers of bar-tailed godwit, variable oystercatcher, and South Island pied oystercatcher that use the site. Other birds using the site are banded dotterel, ruddy turnstone, terns and gulls.

The sandspit has an all-round view, from D'Urville Island to the Richmond and Arthur ranges and Abel Tasman National Park.

Know before you go

  • Shorebirds, especially godwits, are vulnerable to disturbance. Keep your distance.
  • Dog walkers must keep to the designated areas. Dogs are not permitted beyond the sign, just short of half way down the spit.
  • Fires are not permitted.


Motueka Office
Phone:   +64 3 528 1810
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   Cnr King Edward & High Streets
Motueka 7120
Postal Address:   PO Box 97
Motueka 7143
Whakatū / Nelson Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 546 9339
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   Millers Acre/Taha o te Awa
79 Trafalgar Street
Nelson 7010
Postal Address:   Private Bag 5
Nelson 7042
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