Wildlife reserve



Where and what is the reserve?


The 50-hectare Pauatahanui Wildlife Management Reserve lies at the head of the Inlet. Four hectares are owned by the Royal New Zealand Forest and Bird Protection Society (Forest and Bird) and protected under a covenant with the Queen Elizabeth II Trust. The rest of the reserve is owned by the Department of Conservation (DOC).


The area contains the most significant saltmarsh in the lower North Island.

 Flax and Rushes


Development of the reserve


The area was designated a Wildlife Management Reserve in 1985, with the following primary aims:


·    to protect and enhance habitat for waterfowl

·    to protect the saltmarsh and create a more diverse habitat by developing flax swamp, manuka/kanuka forest and coastal shrubland around the saltmarsh

·    to provide visitor access to significant parts of the reserve so it can be used without disturbing wildlife.


Since 1985, the reserve has seen a number of developments to support these aims. Shallow ponds known as ‘scrapes’ were developed for wading birds, tracks and boardwalks were built around the saltmarsh, and hides were established so that visitors could observe the birdlife. A plant nursery was established and a visitor centre built. Weed eradication began very quickly, and continues as a major activity.



Plants and planting


The reserve contains a succession of vegetation from tidal mudflats to coastal forest. The coastal scrub consists of marsh ribbonwood, coastal tree daisy, taupata, ngaio, kanuka and manuka. The principal wetlands species to be found in the reserve are swamp flax, raupo, reeds, rushes, glasswort, sea primrose, halfstar, New Zealand spinach and wild celery. The rare New Zealand musk, Mimulus repens, is also present in the reserve.


An extensive planting programme is carried out by volunteers from Forest and Bird and the community.



The birds

The most commonly seen birds in the reserve include:







A predator control programme is in place to protect the wildlife.



pied stilt

mallard duck



paradise duck





white-faced heron

spur-winged plover



black swan

White-faced heron


Lagoons with artificial shell islands have been created as breeding sites for pied stilts





Last Updated: 14/12/2015 12:01am