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Kaikorai Estuary

Kaikorai Estuary is an extensively modified, moderate-sized tidal lagoon located at Dunedin. The catchment is dominated by pasture (48%) and urban areas (21%). 

Although it often has a constricted tidal mouth, it is nearly always open, only occasionally closing for short periods. The upper estuary is at times poorly flushed, stratified, and susceptible to phytoplankton blooms. Mouth constriction, reclamation, and causeways in the lower reaches of the estuary have contributed to the central estuary becoming dominated by muddy sediments in poor condition. 

The estuary supports a variety of substrate types, extensive areas of salt marsh, but no seagrass. It is muddy, with a high level of eutrophication , extensive gross eutrophic zones, soft muds, poor sediment oxygenation, and high phytoplankton concentrations. However, there are no nuisance macroalgal growths present.

Historically, there has been habitat change and loss of estuary salt marsh (estimated at ~100ha overall) and the 200m terrestrial buffer is now dominated by a mix of industrial activities, roading, and grassland. The most degraded conditions are in the relatively sheltered central basin of the estuary, with the lower estuary being well flushed with more mobile sands due to a stronger tidal influence and wave action during storms.

Estuary summary

What makes my estuary unique?

Explore the characteristics of this estuary


Estuary characteristics

  • Significant features
    • Habitat for a large variety of bird species, especially waterfowl
    • Extensive high-value saltmarsh habitat
  • Total area
    94 hectares
  • Key rivers
    • Kaikorai Stream
    • Abbotts Creek

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.

Kaikorai 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
Monitored sites 3

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