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Hutt Estuary

The Hutt Estuary is a moderate-sized, shallow estuary which drains into Wellington Harbour at Petone. The estuary has very low habitat diversity, is dominated by sand and mud, and bounded by seawalls. However, it’s one of just five places in Aotearoa where a rare marine worm (Boccardiella magniovara) is found.

Greater Wellington carries out annual environmental monitoring at two sites in the estuary. An additional in-depth analysis of the animals living in the sediment is carried out every five years.

The Hutt Estuary has been highly modified from its original state. In 1909 it was much larger and included several lagoon arms, extensive intertidal flats and saltmarsh vegetation. By the 1960s, most of the intertidal flats and lagoon areas had been reclaimed and the estuary restrained to a single channel between artificial banks.

Several small streams that flow into the estuary have also been highly modified. These streams bring high amounts of nutrients and sediment into the estuary, encouraging the growth of algae along the banks.

The mouth of the estuary is muddy and nutrient enriched; however, heavy metal concentrations are fairly low.

Estuary summary

What makes my estuary unique?

Explore the characteristics of this estuary

Overview

Estuary characteristics

  • Significant features

    The western arm of the Hutt estuarine system, between the mouth and the estuary bridge, is the last remaining soft sediment estuarine mudflat in the lower North Island. 

    The Hutt Estuary is one of just five places in Aotearoa where a rare marine worm (Boccardiella magniovara) is found. 

  • Total area
    50 hectares
  • Total shoreline length
    3km
  • Tide
    Tidal influence reaches up to the Ewan Bridge.
  • Key rivers
    • Hutt River
    • Morea Stream

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.

Monitored sites 2

Select a monitored site from the list below

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