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The Tāmaki Estuary is a shallow, drowned valley located to the east of Auckland City. The estuary extends around 17 km inland from its mouth at the Tāmaki Strait, with several smaller tributaries radiating out from the main channel. The estuary comprises large areas of intertidal sand and mudflats along with fringing mangrove forest and features numerous habitats and ecosystems that are regionally important.

Much of the catchment surrounding the Tāmaki Estuary is intensively developed and has a long history of commercial and industrial use. The pressures associated with these land uses have cumulatively had a negative impact on sediment quality, particularly in the estuary’s muddier, sheltered upper reaches.

Hundreds of wading birds feed in intertidal areas rich in shellfish, and use exposed sand and mudflats as roosting sites. Towards the mouth of the estuary, Tahuna Torea (a large sand-shell spit) extends outwards from the western shoreline, providing important habitat for many native and endemic plants and animals, while on the eastern shoreline, Musick Point features an area of rocky intertidal habitat.

A busy recreational and commercial marina facility is located in Half Moon Bay on the eastern shoreline, a short distance from the estuary mouth.

The estuary narrows considerably in its mid reaches, creating a separation between the sheltered, low energy upper estuary, and the wider, more expansive lower estuary.

Estuary summary

What makes my estuary unique?

Explore the characteristics of this estuary


Estuary characteristics

  • Significant features
    • Regionally important wildlife habitat
    • Tahuna Torea Nature Reserve
    • Musick Point rocky intertidal habitat
    • Several Significant Ecological Areas have been identified within the estuary as defined in the Auckland Unitary Plan
    • Within the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park
  • Total area
    1,690 hectares
  • Total shoreline length
    ~40 km
  • Key rivers
    • Tāmaki River
    • Otara Creek
    • Pakuranga Creek
    • Omaru Creek
    • Otaki Creek

What's happening upstream?

See results from monitored river quality sites influencing this estuary

River quality

What's happening upstream?

The physical characteristics and health of estuaries are influenced by the rivers and streams flowing into them. For instance, when it rains the mud and contaminants generated on land can be washed into rivers and eventually flow into the estuary. The health of our rivers and streams can therefore be very important for Estuary Health, and understanding the upstream pressures can help with interpreting estuary monitoring data.

Monitoring is undertaken for a range of river health indicators (e.g., water quality and ecology) in many catchments across the region. Where there are monitored river catchments that influence this estuary, these are shown below. You can click through to view monitoring results from these River Quality sites to see current state and how health has changed over time.

What surrounds my estuary?

See land cover information from monitored catchments that surround this estuary

Land cover

What surrounds my estuary?

The physical characteristics and health of estuaries are influenced by local geography and the way we use our land. This is because estuaries are the receiving environments for many of our land use activities. Land cover information can be used as an indicator of land use, therefore knowing the surrounding land cover can help us understand which pressures might be affecting Estuary Health.

Where there is land cover information available for nearby catchments, these are listed below. These figures show the types of vegetation and built or natural features that surround the estuary margins and the rivers that flow into this estuary. You can click through to the Land Cover topic to see these land cover classes broken down into further detail, and view changes over time.

Omaru Creek
Otara Creek
Pakuranga Creek

What do the Broad Land Cover Classes mean?

Land cover information on LAWA is grouped into land cover classes at two levels of detail – broad and medium. For this overview we are showing the six broad-level classes for the catchment.

  • Forest

    Inclusive of; indigenous and exotic forest.

  • Scrub / shrubland

    Inclusive of; indigenous and exotic scrub / shrubland.

  • Grassland / other herbaceous vegetation

    Inclusive of; tussock and exotic grassland and other herbaceous vegetation.

  • Cropland

    Inclusive of; cropping / horticulture.

  • Urban / bare / lightly-vegetated surfaces

    Inclusive of; natural bare/lightly-vegetated and artificial bare surfaces, and urban area

  • Water bodies
Monitored sites 9

Select a monitored site from the list below

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No sites found.