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Akaroa Harbour

Akaroa Harbour is a deep drowned valley that was formed by the collapse of Banks Peninsula’s southernmost volcanic crater. Its seascapes vary from gently sloping mudflats in the upper harbour to rocky shores and high cliffs at the heads.

Activities on the surrounding land that affect the health of the harbour include rural (nutrient run-off, land clearance and earthworks) and urban land use (storm water discharges and septic tanks). Two ocean outfalls that discharge treated wastewater into the harbour also affect its water quality.

The health of the benthic communities within Akaroa Harbour are moderately impacted.

The harbour is home to a number of taonga marine species, including the Hector’s dolphin/tūpoupou and yellow-eyed penguin/hoiho.

Akaroa Harbour is culturally and historically significant for mana whenua and as an important source of mahinga kai. It’s also a valued area for recreation, tourism, and marine industries.

Estuary summary

What makes my estuary unique?

Explore the characteristics of this estuary


Estuary characteristics

  • Significant features
    • The harbour is one of two eroded volcanic centres from the extinct Banks Peninsula Volcano.
    • Akaroa Marine Reserve (512.15 ha) is located at the head of the harbour.
    • The harbour forms part of the Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary (14,310 km2 total), created to protect the endangered Hector’s dolphin/tūpoupou, one of the world’s rarest and smallest dolphins.
    • Designated as a taiāpure customary management area, with local fisheries of special significance to mana whenua.
  • Total area
    4200 hectares
  • Total shoreline length
  • Tide
    Spring tides: 2.1m high, 0.9m low; Neap tides: 2.1m high, 0.4m low.
  • Flushing time
    58 days
  • Key rivers
    • Wainui Stream
    • French Farm Stream
    • Barry's Bay Stream
    • Pawsons Stream
    • Takamatua Stream

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.

Wainui Stream
French Farm Stream
Barry's Bay Stream
Pawsons Stream
Takamatua Stream
Aylmers Valley Stream
Balguerie Stream

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

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Monitored sites 2

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