The Northland peninsula is lined by 3,200km of stunning coastline which is home to a diverse array of marine plants and animals. The coastline is prized by Northlanders for its beauty, recreational opportunities and as an important source of kai moana. Northland estuaries support extensive seagrass meadows and shellfish beds, provide nursery habitat to fish species and roosting, nesting and feeding areas for coastal birds including both internationally and nationally threatened species.
Estuaries are also important economic, social and cultural assets, with harbour and estuarine systems such as Whāngārei Harbour and the Bay of Islands contributing significantly to the Northland economy and the environment of its inhabitants. Northland’s estuaries are popular for recreation, including for swimming, fishing, diving, boating, waka ama and paddle boarding. Estuaries also support aquaculture, fisheries and marine industries.
Because of the importance of estuaries and because of their susceptibility to human activities, Northland Regional Council has implemented an estuary monitoring programme to assess the health of Northland’s estuaries and to provide baseline data, which can be used to track changes in the health of these systems over time. We monitor nine ‘sentinel’ sites in three estuaries: Whāngārei Harbour, Kerikeri Inlet and Ruakaka Estuary.