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Waiōtahe is the smallest of the shallow intertidal dominated estuary type in the Bay of Plenty, with only a small area of intertidal flats. The lowland river valley is wide with pastoral farming on either side of the river. The small sandspit at the estuary mouth contains a largely unmodified dune formation, that supports a range of rare bird species including New Zealand dotterel, banded rails, bitterns and fernbird.

Near the estuary mouth there is a pipi bed with very significant cultural value. Sedimentation has impacted the upper reaches of the estuary, with extensive areas of mud present. Levels of bacteria can be a problem in this estuary.

Estuary summary

What makes my estuary unique?

Explore the characteristics of this estuary


Estuary characteristics

  • Significant features
    • Onekawa Forest contains one of a few examples of coastal pohutukawa and black beech forest.
    • Waiōtahe Spit contains an important breeding site for northern New Zealand dotterel.
    • Waiōtahe Spit Scenic and Historic Reserves. 
  • Total area
    110 hectares
  • Total shoreline length
    14 km
  • Tide
    Spring: 1.7m, Neap: 1.1m
  • Flushing time
    1.45 days
  • Key rivers
    • Waiōtahe 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.

Monitored sites 3

Select a monitored site from the list below

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