Canterbury/Waitaha has a variety of seascapes, from long sand and shingle beaches, mudflats, and rocky shores.
The region's estuaries support a unique array of bird, fish, mammals, invertebrates, and plant life. They are important spaces for their cultural, aesthetic, and recreational values.
Environment Canterbury monitors eight estuaries to characterise and track changes in their health. They include large shallow intertidal mudflats, coastal embayments, and river mouth lagoons.
As estuaries are a critical connection between the land and the sea, they are natural basins that accumulate sediment, nutrients, and contaminants.
In Canterbury, the main threats to the health of estuaries come from peoples' use of urban and rural land, including nutrient run-off from rural land use, sediment run-off from earthworks, and the discharge of contaminants from stormwater, wastewater, and industrial discharges.
The benthic health of the estuaries that are monitored within the Canterbury region range from moderately to significantly impacted.