Te Rauakaaka

Te Rauakaaka sits on the south side of the Waimakariri River and includes the Waimakariri River saltmarsh and Styx River mouth.

Te Rauakaaka includes the Whites Crossing picnic area around the mouth of the Ōtūkaikino Stream providing a peaceful setting with old willow trees shading the spring-fed waters. It is popular with bird watchers, families and anglers. 

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Te Rauakaaka

Walking Dog-walking Cycling Bird-watching Kayaking Angling Picnic area Public toilets Parking.


Te Rauakaaka sits on the south side of the Waimakariri River, bordering the communities of Kainga, Stewarts Gully and Brooklands.

The 212-hectare park includes a salt marsh and the Styx River mouth nature reserve. It provides the setting for a range of recreational activities including picnicking and nature walks. Development continues as we enhance the recreational and biodiversity values of the area.

The sole vehicle entrance to Te Rauakaaka is located off Kainga Road on the eastern side of the railway line. From here, people can go under the bridge, upstream to the picnic area and toilet block, or downstream to Kainga Beach.

There is also vehicle access to Pikes Track off Kainga Road. People can walk from Pikes Track downstream through the Te Rauakaaka Nature Reserve.

Gates open 4.30AM to 7PM in winter and 4.30AM to 10PM during daylight saving.

Dogs must be kept under effective control at all times. No barbecues are provided but visitors are welcome to bring their own, provided they are gas-only and used in areas clear of vegetation. Light no fires. Dial 111 immediately if you see smoke or flames.


Picnic tables - Whites Crossing picnic ground is based around the mouth of the Ōtūkaikino Stream and has four tables. The western side can be accessed from Coutts Island Road, while the eastern side can be accessed off Kainga Road. 

Public toilet - at Whites Crossing picnic ground. Accessible via a bridge across the Ōtūkaikino Stream.

Car parks - are provided at various sites within the park. 


Walking and cycling - A shared-use track runs from Whites Crossing Picnic Ground to Brooklands Lagoon.  From Whites Crossing you can continue west along the Templars Island Trail, all the way to McLeans Island.

Picnics - Whites Crossing Picnic Ground is based around the mouth of the Ōtūkaikino Stream. The western side can be accessed from Coutts Island Road, while the eastern side can be accessed off Kainga Road. There are public toilets on site.

Fishing/whitebaiting - Kainga Beach offers great river bird viewing and a variety of open grassland picnic settings. It is popular for fishing and whitebaiting.

Yachting/rowing/kayaking - Stewarts Gully sailing club, high school rowing and family kayaking. See recreational boating for more information. 

Nature walks/bird watching - Te Rauakaaka Nature Reserve runs from the eastern boundary of Stewarts Gully Sailing Club downstream to Brooklands Lagoon. It contains a regionally-significant saltmarsh and freshwater wetland habitats, supporting threatened swamp birds and waders. When fully developed, the area will include self-guided walking trails, lookouts and bird hides.
Historically Māori used this area as a food gathering site for aruhe (fernroot), eels (tuna), duck and pora (turnip). It is thought its name derives from Te Rau-a-Te-Kaka (‘the gathering of Te Kaka’, the kaka parrot).
Stewarts Gully is named after the Stewart family who arrived from Scotland in 1865. The family ran a flax mill on the banks of the Waimakariri River, just about the site of the present railway bridge. A son, James, had a farm in the area and grew oats and barley.
The railway line between Christchurch and Kaiapoi was opened on 29 April 1872 and Stewarts Gully became a popular holiday resort and picnic spot for the people of Christchurch.

During WW2, the 1st Battalion of the Canterbury Regiment commandeered Stewarts Gully as a training site for the defence of the coast from the threat of a Japanese invasion.

The 1957 flood caused severe damage around Coutts Island, Kainga and Stewarts Gully, destroying a number of houses. Today, dwelling numbers are restricted around the Kainga and Stewarts Gully communities, allowing them to retain their rural village atmosphere.