Waimakariri zone biodiversity

The Tūtaepatu Lagoon and the braided waters of the Waimakariri and Ashley/Rakahuri rivers make the Waimakariri zone rich in biodiversity.

Activities

Highlights

Inland, the forests, springs, streams and wetlands of the foothills and upper plains area include significant podocarp forest remnants and provide a habitat for endangered native fish species, such as Canterbury mudfish. The mid-plains area is highly developed with limited areas of  natural biodiversity remaining. However, there are still high value areas, including the significant vegetation remnants of the Eyrewell forest and seasonally-dry waterways such as the Eyre and Cust rivers which provide critically important habitat and corridors linking to the sea for native fish and invertebrates.

Tūtaepatu Lagoon

Tūtaepatu is a spring fed shallow lagoon on the coast between the Waimakariri and Ashley Rakahuri Rivers. The area supports a diverse range of indigenous species populations.

Ashley River/Rakahuri 

The Ashley/Rakahuri River and Ashley/Rakahuri Gorge are landscapes of regional significance. The braided sections of the Ashley provide breeding grounds for the rare and endangered riverbed nesting species including wrybill, black-fronted tern and black-billed gulls. Since 1999 the Ashley/Rakahuri Rivercare Group has been working to maintain the populations, and their monitoring shows encouraging results. The Ashley/Saltwater Creek estuary is also a feeding and resting zone for the riverbed nesting birds, and plays host to over 90 recorded species, including the bar-tailed godwit. It is also significant for its saltmarsh vegetation, of which there is little left in Canterbury.

Waimakariri River

The Waimakariri River is an important habitat for bird, fish and plant species, in particular the nationally endangered black-fronted tern and the nationally critical Olearia adenocarpa, among many other endangered species. Spring-fed streams draining to the Ashley/Rakahuri and Waimakariri Rivers provide important habitat for koura, longfin and shortfin eels, lamprey and invertebrates. The coastal area between the Ashley/Rakahuri and Waimakariri Rivers provides a significant corridor for native biodiversity, including the Tūtaepatu lagoon (adjacent to the Kaiapoi pā) and associated wetland areas and vegetation remnants. 

Inland, the forests, springs, streams and wetlands of the foothills and upper plains area include significant podocarp forest remnants and also habitat for endangered native fish species such as Canterbury mudfish.  

The mid-plains area is highly developed with limited areas of remaining natural biodiversity. However, there are still high value areas, including the significant vegetation remnants of the Eyrewell forest and seasonally-dry waterways such as the Eyre and Cust rivers which provide critically important habitat and corridors linking to the sea for native fish and invertebrates.

Places to go

Tūtaepatu Lagoon 

Tūtaepatu Lagoon is an area of rare ecological values and high cultural significance.

Things to do

Tūtaepatu Lagoon can be seen by walking/cycling the Tūtaepatu Trail. This is a 5 kilometre all-weather walking and cycling trail running between Woodend Beach Road and Kiwi Avenue Waikuku. It can also be accessed from Tiritirimoana Drive, Pegasus Town.

The trail has a viewing platform over the lagoon to view the many species of waterfowl and forest bird species as well as a seated area with views north to Maukatere/Mount Grey. Dogs may be taken on the trail but are required to be on a leash between Woodend Beach and Pegasus Town. This trail is for all levels of fitness. Check out the Tūtaepatu Lagoon map (PDF 333 kB) for trail details.

Description

The lagoon is a 49 hectare, spring fed freshwater wildlife sanctuary, which is home to many species of native fauna and flora. It has rare ecological value and supports a diverse range of indigenous species including mudfish, inaka and eel, morepork, bittern, bellbird and soft tree fern, raupō and matagouri. The lagoon is situated in Tūhaitara Coastal Park, an approximately 575 hectare strip of land along the coastline between the Waimakariri and Ashley/Rakahuri River mouths. The track travels through established pine plantations along the edge of the lagoon where various restoration projects are underway to remove willow and pine and replace them with native vegetation.

History

The residents of Kaiapoi Pā and in more recent years, members of Ngāi Tūahuriri Rūnanga, have had a close relationship with the land here.

Tūtaepatu Lagoon was a rich and important source of māhinga kai, particularly tuna/eel. In addition, the area surrounding Tūtaepatu Lagoon contains the urupā for Turakautahi, who was the founder of the Kaiapoi Pā. It is part of the area known as the greatest pounamu trading centre in the South Island.

The name Te Kōhaka o Tūhaitara means "the nest of Tūhaitara" - Tūhaitara was an ancestress of Ngāi Tūahuriri. The occupiers of the Kaiapoi Pā and North Canterbury were known as the Tūhaitara people or hapu. Kōhaka refers to a nest, to the season of spring, indicating a time to apply vision, new concepts, the sowing of thoughts or seeds.

The Tūhaitara Coastal Park was established as an outcome of the Ngāi Tahu settlement with the Crown, with the lands being gifted to the people of New Zealand. The Coastal Park is managed by the Te Kōhaka o Tūhaitara Trust, a registered charitable organisation which manages and administers the park as a recreation reserve.

The Te Kohaka o Tuhaitara Trust, with the support of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy Waimakariri Zone Committee and the Department of Conservation, started stage 3 of the restoration project in December 2011. This includes the continuing control of weed species including old man’s beard and female grey willow. Stage 3 also includes the planting of succession species and future canopy species including kahikatea and totara.

More information is available on the Tūhaitara Coastal Park website.

Getting there

Heading north from Christchurch on SH1 take the turn off to Woodend Beach. Travel to the end of Woodend Beach Road where you will find the Tūhaitara Coastal Park car park. Tūtaepatu Lagoon is part of the Tūhaitara Coastal Park, which is managed by Te Kōhaka o Tūhaitara Trust.

Dogs are not permitted at Tūtaepatu Lagoon but are allowed in some areas of Tūhaitara Coastal Park.

 

Taking action

Immediate Steps

As part of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS), the Waimakariri Zone Committee has funding of $100,000 per year for four years (2011-2015) to support projects through the Immediate Steps biodiversity protection and restoration programme. 

Funding is available to support on the ground actions which improve the ecosystem health of springs, wetlands and streams within the focus areas, such as fencing-out springs, weed control in wetlands or planting to improve in-stream habitat for mahinga kai species.

Recent projects

We have been working on a number of biodiversity projects within the Waimakariri zone.

Mounsey's Stream

This joint project builds on collaborative work between the Waimakariri District Council, QEII Trust and the landowner to protect high quality mudfish habitat, a stand of remnant native vegetation and a 1.5km reach of the hill and spring-fed stream. Eco-sourced native plants will also be established along sections of the stream to ultimately improve stream health and reduce bank erosion. 

Sladden's Bush Road

This project entailed fencing off from cattle mudfish habitat which included a section of meandering stream with extensive native sedge vegetation along its banks. While cattle are to be excluded, sheep grazing is to be maintained to assist the landowner with weed control and to maintain unshaded sections of stream habitat. This is important for mudfish habitat, as too much shade over a stream can reduce the growth of in-stream aquatic plants, which are critical substrates for mudfish to lay their eggs within.

Both project sites lie within the Oxford ecological district and include reaches of hill fed streams which are highly modified by historic land clearance and grazing; indigenous vegetation cover is largely absent from the area. The identification and protection of these sites in this area is therefore extremely important.

Tutaepatu Lagoon

Tūtaepatu is a spring fed shallow lagoon on the coast between the Waimakariri and Ashley Rakahuri Rivers. The area supports a diverse range of indigenous species populations e.g. mudfish and tuna, ruru and bellbird, swamp nettle, raupo and matagouri. It is part of the Tūhaitara Coastal Park, which is managed by Te Kōhaka o Tūhaitara Trust. Greg Byrnes who looks after the park welcomes people to become friends of the park. People can register as a friend at tkot.enquiries@farmside.co.nz or check out the parks
Facebook page ‘Friends of Tūhaitara Coastal Park’.

Restoring Tūtaepatu Lagoon

Find out about the restoration of the Tūtaepatu Lagoon near Woodend, supported by the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.

The Waimakiriri Zone Committee has provided $80,000 in funding through the CWMS Immediate Steps Ecosystem Health and Biodiversity initiative for the restoration of this lagoon. The programme began with weed removal and control, followed by planting more than 4000 native plants including kahikatea, New Zealand's tallest forest tree. 

Watch the video