Hurunui Waiau Uwha zone biodiversity
The Hurunui Waiau Uwha water zone has diverse terrestrial and aquatic habitats, supporting a number of indigenous animal and plant species, some of which are threatened. These indigenous animals and plant species make up the unique communities and ecosystems that are iconic to district.
The rivers, streams, hāpua and wetlands of the district have always been an important place and food basket for Ngāi Tahu, Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura and Ngāi Tūāhuriri.
The Southern Alps form the backbone of the Hurunui Waiau Uwha zone, with the eastern limit bound by the Pacific Ocean. The district is incredibly diverse and is home to a great variety of flora and fauna including great spotted kiwi/roroa, blue duck/whio and extensive kānuka woodland.
The Hurunui Waiau Uwha zone has 12 major ecological districts reflecting the extreme diversity contained in its environment. What constitutes an ecological district depends on topography, geology, climate, soils, vegetation and man-made modifications.
A variety of indigenous plant communities are found in the more developed/modified eastern half of the district. These include remnant coastal hardwood forest, mixed shrubland, savannah woodlands, and tussock grasslands.
The largest kānuka woodland in Waitaha/Canterbury is found near Medbury. Areas of remnant podocarp forest such as Wandle Bush, Terako Downs and Lottery Bush are significant.
The zone contains the easiest passes between Te Tai Poutini/the West Coast and Waitaha/Canterbury. The passes were utilised by Māori for travel and trade, particularly for the precious jade – pounamu/greenstone. The Hurunui Lakes were extensively used for mahinga kai, particularly for waterfowl and tuna/eels.
There are no regional parks managed by us in the Hurunui Waiau Uwha water zone, but there’s plenty of recreational opportunities in the zone’s public reserves, walkways and parks.
Find out more about Waitaha/Canterbury’s regional parks.
Places to go
See walking tracks and national park information on the Department of Conservation website: