The Manawatu Estuary is a very special place in New Zealand.
So special in fact, that it has been designated as a
Wetland of International Importance (a Ramsar site).
As the largest (over 200 ha) and most significant estuary in the southern half of the North Island, the Manawatu 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 Artic for the northern summer to breed.
Bar-tailed godwits feeding at the estuary
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 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.