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The Waitōtara Estuary is a long, shallow and short residence time tidal river estuary. The estuary provides habitat for coastal and migratory birds and is occasionally visited by the threatened (nationally critical) kotuku or white heron (Ardea modesta). Historically, various food sources were gathered throughout the estuary by the people of Ngaa Rauru Kiitahi; including kaakahi (freshwater mussels), tuna (eels), whitebait, smelt, kahawai, flounder and sole. The upstream catchment is currently comprised of mixed native forest (68%), sheep and beef farmland (20%), plantation forestry (7%) and dairy farmland (5%).

The estuary is vulnerable to the impacts of sedimentation due to the catchment being erosion prone and the high proportion of muddy sediments in the mid-upper reaches of the estuary.


Estuary summary

What makes my estuary unique?

Explore the characteristics of this estuary


Estuary characteristics

  • Significant features
    • Area of Outstanding Value in Proposed Coastal Plan for Taranaki
    • The Southernmost estuary in Taranaki
  • Total area
    98 hectares
  • Total shoreline length
    25 km
  • Key rivers
    • Waitotara River

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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