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Maketū Estuary

Maketū Estuary is a shallow intertidal dominated estuary on the Kaituna Plains with a strong cultural history. An important kaimoana source, at low tide there are always people out collecting pipi. It is renowned for the beauty of the natural habitats that range from wetlands and swamps to the vegetated dunes of the spit, although extensive loss of wetland has occurred. It is regionally recognized for its high cultural and ecological values, particularly as avifauna habitat including shorebird roosting sites. 

Historically the Kaituna River flowed through the estuary at the western end, but was diverted away and directly out to the sea in the 1950s. This resulted in significant degradation of estuary condition. In 1990 the Kaituna River flow was partially re-diverted to the estuary to improve ecological health and mauri. Later in 2020 the river diversion was further increased along with restoration of large areas of saltmarsh and wetland. The estuary had been plagued by algal blooms in the upper reaches, and poor water quality as a result of low flushing. Improvements in ecological indicators have been evident in the past few years following the increased river re-diversion and wetland restoration.

Estuary summary

What makes my estuary unique?

Explore the characteristics of this estuary


Estuary characteristics

  • Significant features
    • The landing place of Te Arawa waka.
    • Regionally important for kaimoana.
    • There are around 20 hectares of re-created wetlands around the estuary margin.
    • Threatened bird species such as moho pereru (banded rail) and matuku (Australasian bittern) have been observed in wetlands.
    • Maketu Spit and Wildlife Management Reserve.
  • Total area
    268 hectares
  • Total shoreline length
    21 km
  • Tide
    Spring: 1.7m, Neap: 1.1m
  • Flushing time
    1.04 days
  • Key rivers
    • Kaituna River

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.


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 12

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