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Wairau Lagoon

The Wairau Lagoon is a large lagoon complex to the east of Waiharakeke/Blenheim at the mouth of the Wairau River. It is the largest and most ecologically important estuary on the east coast of the South Island.

The lagoons provide habitat for a large number of fish and birds. Almost 90 bird species have been recorded here. A large area of the important habitat-forming aquatic grass ruppia can also be found in the subtidal area of the big lagoon.

The boulder bank, which acts as a barrier between the Lagoon and Cloudy Bay, is of great cultural and historical significance. It contains a series of Māori archaeological sites including middens, campsites and ūrupa/burial grounds. Archaeological evidence suggests that this is one of the earliest human settlement sites in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Estuary summary

What makes my estuary unique?

Explore the characteristics of this estuary

Overview

Estuary characteristics

  • Significant features

    Marlborough District Council Ecologically Significant Marine Site Number 8.2

  • Total area
    2800 hectares
  • Total shoreline length
    22km

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. For example, the sandflats of estuaries surrounded by rural areas will typically contain contaminants related to rural activities (e.g., cadmium from crop fertilisers and copper from fungicides), whereas those surrounded by urban areas are more likely to contain contaminants associated with cities (e.g., zinc and lead from roads and building materials). 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.

Wairau River

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 3

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