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The Manawatū Estuary is a very special place in Aotearoa New Zealand.

So special in fact, that it has been designated as a

Wetland of International Importance (a Ramsar site).

A national wader count is carried out twice a year to monitor long-term trends in the wader population at the Manawatū Estuary. Click here find out more about the wader counts.


Bar-tailed Godwits feeding at the Estuary

As the largest (over 200 ha) and most significant Estuary in the southern half of the North Island, the Manawatū Estuary offers important habitat for many different wildlife species, including the migratory Bar-tailed Godwit, which flies all the way from Alaska to spend our summer here before returning to the Arctic for the northern summer to breed.

The importance of the area lies partly in its role as permanent home to 23 threatened species: thirteen species of bird, six species of fish, and four species of plants.


The Estuary is an important habitat for migratory native fish living up river, as many Aotearoa New Zealand species need to go to sea at some point in their life cycle. The mudflats serve as a feeding ground for many migratory birds each year. A very high diversity of birds and fish is supported by these waters; 95 species of birds have been recorded here, meaning the estuary holds one of the greatest bird diversities in the country.

The Land Air Water Aotearoa website (LAWA) has some more interesting information about Estuaries, including what you can find at the Manawatū Estuary.

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