Nature and conservation
Whangamarino Wetland has been a Ramsar Site since 1989 - a wetland of international importance.
The freshwater wetland is made up of 7,000 ha mosaic of swamps, fens and peat bogs around the Whangamarino and Maramarua Rivers. It is the second largest bog and swamp complex in the North Island.
It is managed as both wetland and wildlife management reserves by DOC. Whangamarino is part of a substantial and effective flood control scheme on the lower Waikato River.
The dominant vegetation within the peat bogs is comprised of Baumea species, manuka and the wire rush.
The swamp has greater species diversity, but also has a large number of exotics. Introduced willow provides the canopy in many areas, while the under-story is dominated by herbaceous vegetation.
A number of threatened plants have been recorded within the Wetland including the water milfoil , the swamp helmet orchid and the club moss.
Whangamarino Wetland is rich in mosses and 13 new species have been added to the list of New Zealand flora from this area. Lichens are also well represented.
The Whangamarino Wetland is an important habitat for a number of threatened species including the Australasian bittern (20% of the New Zealand population reside in the wetland), grey teal, spotless crake, North Island fernbird and black mudfish.
Eighteen species of fish have been recorded in the wetland including longfin eel/tuna and black mudfish.
Pest fish species are prolific and difficult to control. Catfish and koi carp have a particularly significant impact as their aggressive feeding behaviour stirs up bottom sediments. Koi carp are being targeted by bow hunters and some coarse fishing of rudd, catfish and gold fish takes place.
The Whangamarino Wetland is part of the Arawai Kākāriki wetland restoration programme - see Whangamarino Wetland restoration.
History and culture
Historically significant sites
Nearby is Meremere Redoubt, one of 22 earthwork forts built between Auckland and Pirongia.
On the Whangamarino Historic Walk see Whangamarino Redoubt and Te Teoteo's Pa - two key sites of conflict during the Waikato War of 1863-64.
These sites are on Heritage New Zealand's Waikato War Driving Tour.
Water levels changed considerably when the Lower Waikato-Waipa Flood Protection Scheme was instigated in 1961. The hydrology of the wetland has also been impacted by sand extraction and hydro-power generation on the Waikato River.
In 1994 DOC and Fish & Game commissioned the construction of a rock rubble weir on the Whangamarino River to reinstate a hydrological regime that offered to recreate a 'wet/dry' seasonal cycle. It provides improved minimum water levels over 2,000 ha of the mineralised swamp.
This large wetland is located between Mercer and Te Kauwhata, to the east of SH1.
The Whangamarino Redoubt is off SH1 south of Mercer via Oram Road.
You can also drive to the wetland via Island Block Road at Meremere, or Falls Road from Te Kauwhata.
Know before you go
There is no vehicle access into the wetland, but there are boat ramps on both these roads if you want to get closer to the water and explore the wetland by boat or kayak.