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The Waitara Estuary is located at the coastal town of Waitara and is one of the region’s most significant long length, shallow, well-flushed tidal river estuary. It has a very high freshwater inflow, has a wide subtidal channel and its mouth flanked either side by man-made rock wall is always open. The intertidal habitat is characterised by soft muds, sands, and some saltmarsh comprising rushland (Juncus kraussii - Searush, Apodasmia similis - Jointed wirerush, Isolepis nodosa - Knobby clubrush), reedland (Typha orientalis - Raupo), and sedgeland (Schoenoplectus pungens - Three-square) vegetation. It is valued for its aesthetic, spiritual appeal, bathing, biodiversity, and food harvesting. It is significant to the people of Te Atiawa as it was one of the first areas to be settled in Aotearoa. The river provided an abundance of fish, īnanga, tuna (eels), piharau, kahawai, yellow eyed mullet, flounder, herrings, kōkopu, weka, pukeko and ducks. Ecologically, habitat diversity is moderate with some of its regionally significant intertidal vegetation intact. The estuary catchment is dominated by native forest, dairy and sheep/beef farming and exotic forest (including consented forestry).

The estuary has minimal susceptibility to eutrophication due to its highly flushed nature. However, it has been classified as moderate-highly vulnerable to sedimentation (muddiness) as the catchment is naturally erosion prone.

Estuary summary

What makes my estuary unique?

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Estuary characteristics

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.

Monitored sites 1

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