Mill Road wetland gets a makeover

Over one thousand square metres of wetland has been fenced off along Lyell Creek/Waikōau at the back of a Mill Road property in Kaikōura, to help keep stock out of the spring-fed stream. Two additional springs and five overland flow paths feeding into the stream have also been protected.

A Kaikōura fencer, landowner, and some local farmers have worked with our staff to protect and enhance the natural wetland. Around $14,000 has been spent to fence the wetland area, funded from the Kaikōura Water Zone Committee’s ‘on-the-ground actions for freshwater’ fund.

Our Land Management and Biodiversity Advisor, Heath Melville, said the fencing creates a buffer around the existing wetland and will allow native vegetation to colonise the area.

"There are some springs in there, supporting a good population of native rushes, or wīwī. Give it time and keep on top of the weeds, and it will develop into an impressive wetland,” he said.

“Excluding stock permanently will limit nutrient loss into the stream, improving water quality and freshwater habitat."

Mellville said the Kaikōura Plains Recovery report for the Lyell catchment, supplied by NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research) has given us the ability to take a targeted approach.

"We've reduced nutrient loss from another eight critical source areas (wet areas) by doing the work on this wetland, which along with other similar work in the catchment, will greatly improve the health of the stream."

Mill Road Wetland, Kaikōura

Mill Road Wetland, Kaikōura. Photo credit (including feature image): Heath Melville

Stock grazing turned biodiversity haven

James Boyd, one of three local farmers leasing the land surrounding the wetland, has been working with our staff and the landowner through the process.

“We feel fortunate to get assistance on the block we lease. Having Environment Canterbury and local contractors helping us to fence more of the creek in a permanent way helps us to keep up with changing legislation and makes it a lot easier to manage stock,” he said.

“The benefits to the environment are at the forefront on these particular jobs, and it helps keep us motivated to stay ahead on our own farm with areas that can get really wet and aren’t easily accessible, by planting more native trees to better protect the waterways,” he said.

Boyd and his brother had previously completed wetland work on their own farm, just after the 2016 earthquakes. 

Local landowners and lessees applauded

Melville said the Boyds had been really proactive at fencing off waterways and wet areas on their own property, protecting and enhancing their own wetland and maintaining it at a really high level.

"It’s been really great working with them on this project where they are leasing.

“With the ongoing pressure of new legislation and keeping up with the rules around waterways, our aim is to help local farmers not just understand the rules, but also where there might be funding or opportunity for us to support them in enhancing their wetland areas and biodiversity on farm."

There are pukeko, kēkēwai (freshwater crayfish) and tuna (longfin eel) at home in the creek area flowing through the property, with more native plant, animal and fish species expected to move in as the wetland becomes more established.

Melville said the spring-fed Waikōau/Lyell and its wetlands are a good habitat for wading birds, which will improve in time with some assistance.

"Riparian vegetation and food sources such as inanga (whitebait) and tuna (longfin eel) are required for these species. It’s thanks to landowners, lessees, and community initiatives like Love the Lyell, that our community can be proud of the diverse range of biodiversity in Kaikōura."

“One farm, one wetland” goal

This work is contributing to the “One farm, one wetland” goal in Kaikōura.

Local landowners and managers who are interested in assistance or resources for protecting or enhancing wetlands on their property can get in touch with our Kaikōura office by calling 03 319 5781.