Places to Explore

There are some really interesting places to explore around Wairarapa Moana. They have natural, historical and cultural values. Places that are accessible for the public to explore can be found on the Wairarapa Moana Wetlands Map (PDF,1316KB), or view on the Explore Wairarapa Moana Map page

Descriptions of how to get to most of the places and facilities provided can be found in the Wairarapa Moana Wetlands Park brochure (PDF, 1655 KB). 

  • Lake Domain Reserve and Barton's Lagoon
  • Matthews and Boggy Pond Wildlife Reserve
  • Wairio Block
  • Lake Onoke, Lake Ferry
  • Wairarapa Lake Shore Scenic Reserve
  • Pounui Lagoon
  • Onoke Spit

Further information about the plant, bird and other species that are mentioned here can be found by clicking on the species names that have links, or going to other websites.

Wildlife observations

People are encouraged to record their observations of plant, bird and animal life of the places they visit. Take photos and put them on websites like NatureWatch NZ or New Zealand eBird. If you see lizards, check the guidelines on Nature Space.

Caspian Terns

Caspian Terns

Royal Spoonbills

Royal Spoonbills

Oystercatchers

Oystercatchers

Lake Domain Reserve and Bartons Lagoon
Lake Domain on the northern shore of Lake Wairarapa is a popular recreational area for walking and camping. 
Native wildlife might you see
You will see a variety of birds feeding and roosting along the lake shore. The adjacent Bartons Lagoon, lined with raupo, has good breeding and nesting habitat for wading birds. Native bird species (many of which are threatened species) that have been sighted in this area include:  Australasian bittern, black shag, little shag, pied stilt, banded dotterel, black-fronted dotterel, Caspian tern, variable oystercatcher, white-faced heron, grey duck, NZ dabchick, red-billed gull, NZ pipit, pukeko and royal spoonbill.
Matthews and Boggy Pond Wildlife Reserve
These raupo-lined lagoons provide ideal viewing for wetland birds. There is a bird-hide on Boggy Pond. The walk to the bird hide is about 800m along a stopbank.
 
Native wildlife might you see
From the bird-hide you might see little black shag, black shag, scaup, NZ dabchick, grey teal, kingfisher and pukeko. 
Threatened native species that have been recorded include: Australasian bittern, banded dotterel, grey duck. ALSO, after not being sighted for 60 years, spotless crake and marsh crake were seen in a recent bird survey. A recent visitor has been the white heron (kotuku).
Other biodiversity values
Threatened species (nationally or regionally) of native wetlands plants are found at these lagoons, including a water brome, swamp nettle, NZ sneezewort, swamp willowherb and silverweed.
Wairio Block and the eastern lake shore
The wetland area in this block is being ecologically restored. A new boardwalk provides access to the eastern lake shore, via a stopbank which is accessed opposite roadside car parking area at Boggy Pond.
This is an important site for national and international migratory birds. 
Native wildlife might you see
Arctic shorebirds birds use the shore from October to April. These shorebirds include: bar-tailed godwit, Pacific golden plover and red knot. The sharp-tailed sandpiper, pectoral sandpiper and curlew sandpiper have also been seen.
Threatened birds seen at this eastern Lake Wairarapa complex include: Australasian bittern, banded dotterel, NZ dabchick, black shag, little black shag, little shag, royal spoonbill, grey duck, pied stilt, wrybill and red-billed gull.
Other biodiversity values
The lake shore is carpeted in extensive areas of ‘turf’ vegetation. This is made up of communities of small, prostrate plants (less than 5 cm tall) that are salt tolerant. There are also threatened wetland plants found in the area.  
 
Lake Onoke & Lake Ferry
Lake Ferry is a settlement on the south east corner of Lake Onoke. Here the Ruamahanga River flows out to Ocean Beach. The outlet opens and closes with the moving sand and gravel of Onoke Spit. The lake outlet is very popular for beach and whitebait fishing. The area also provides interesting places to walk – in one direction heading up the eastern lake shore, in another direction heading east along the beach past the coastal Onoke Lagoon or west along Onoke Spit (if the outlet is closed). 
Native wildlife might you see
The lagoon is visited by paradise shelduck, white-faced heron, black shag, little shag, scaup, kingfisher. Gray warbler can be heard in the native vegetation on the scarp adjacent to the lagoon. NZ pipit can be seen in the vegetation on the beach side of the lagoon and banded dotterel nest along the beach.
The shore of Lake Onoke hosts visitors such as the royal spoonbill, white-faced heron, pied stilt and wrybill.
The outlet is part of an important migratory route for tuna and whitebait species.
History & culture
Fish and waterfowl were in plentiful supply as food resources for early Maori. Tuna (native freshwater eel) was a major resource and catches were dried for storage or trade. 
The lagoon area is a recorded archaeological site. This is the site of a historical fishing Pa called Okorewa.  
 
Wairarapa Lake Shore Scenic Reserve
This is the only area where native forest (from the Rimutaka Range) reaches the lake shore. The lake edge is deeper and stonier that the eastern shore. A day shelter and toilet are fairly recent facilities installed on the reserve.
Native wildlife might you see
This area features mainly forest birds including: tui, bellbird, kereru, grey warbler and fantail.
Other biodiversity values
Forest trees featured include black beech, titoki, nikau, kahikatea and karaka. You are likely to find the shells of kakahi (freshwater mussel) washed up on the shore.
Pounui Lagoon
Pounui Lagoon is on the north western corner of Lake Onoke. It is accessed via Western Lake Road. The lagoon is separated from Lake Onoke by a stopbank from which wetland birds can be viewed.
Native wildlife might you see
Native bird species that use the lagoon include: Australasian shoveler, scaup, grey teal, pukeko and bittern.
Onoke Spit
Onoke Spit separates Lake Onoke from the sea. It is accessed at the end Western Lake Road and by crossing a stream. While it appears rugged and somewhat barren the spit is home to precious native plants and animals. This area is popular for walking or 4-wheel driving. You can head east along the spit towards Lake Ferry, west along the beach towards the mouth of the Wharekauhau River or west along the adjacent Kiriwai Lagoon.
Native wildlife might you see
The spit is a nesting site for several native bird species including the Caspian tern, black-backed gull, red-billed gull, banded dotterel and variable oystercatcher.
Other biodiversity values
The large population of sand tussock (Poa billardierei) on Onoke Spit is one of its national strongholds.  Also of interest are the scabweeds including the mat daisy (Raoulia australis) and pinatoro (Pimelea species). 
A local moth Notoreas perornata is dependent on the pinatoro which grows here. Onoke Spit also provides habitat for the Katipo spider. 
History & culture
The nearby Kiriwai Lagoon area is a recorded archaeological site, being the site of a historical fishing pa. This was once the outlet of the Ruamahanga River when it flowed down the western edge of Lake Onoke.

Lake Domain Reserve and Barton's Lagoon

Lake Domain on the northern shore of Lake Wairarapa is a popular recreational area for walking and camping.

Native wildlife might you see 

You will see a variety of birds feeding and roosting along the lake shore. The adjacent Barton's Lagoon, lined with raupo, has good breeding and nesting habitat for wading birds. Native bird species (many of which are threatened species) that have been sighted in this area include:  Australasian bittern, black shag, little shag, pied stilt, banded dotterel, black-fronted dotterel, Caspian tern, variable oystercatcher, white-faced heron, grey duck, NZ dabchick, red-billed gull, NZ pipit, pukeko and royal spoonbill.

Black fronted dotterel

Black fronted dotterel

Black shags

Black shags

Matthews and Boggy Pond Wildlife Reserve

These raupo-lined lagoons provide ideal viewing for wetland birds. There is a bird-hide on Boggy Pond. The walk to the bird hide is about 800 metres along a stopbank. 

Native wildlife might you see

From the bird-hide you might see little black shag, black shag, scaup, NZ dabchick, grey teal, kingfisher and pukeko. Threatened native species that have been recorded include: Australasian bittern, banded dotterel, grey duck. ALSO, after not being sighted for 60 years, spotless crake and marsh crake were seen in a recent bird survey. A recent visitor has been the white heron (kotuku). Other biodiversity values (threatened species, nationally or regionally) of native wetlands plants are found at these lagoons, including a water brome, swamp nettle, NZ sneezewort, swamp willowherb and silverweed.

Wairio block and the eastern lake shore

The wetland area in this block is being ecologically restored. A new board-walk provides access to the eastern lake shore, via a stopbank which is accessed opposite roadside car parking area at Boggy Pond. This is an important site for national and international migratory birds. 

Native wildlife might you see

Arctic shorebirds birds use the shore from October to April. These shorebirds include: bar-tailed godwit, Pacific golden plover and red knot. The sharp-tailed sandpiper, pectoral sandpiper and curlew sandpiper have also been seen. Threatened birds seen at this eastern Lake Wairarapa complex include: Australasian bittern, banded dotterel, NZ dabchick, black shag, little black shag, little shag, royal spoonbill, grey duck, pied stilt, wrybill and red-billed gull. Other biodiversity values; the lake shore is carpeted in extensive areas of ‘turf’ vegetation. This is made up of communities of small, prostrate plants (less than 5 cm tall) that are salt tolerant. There are also threatened wetland plants found in the area.   

Lake Onoke & Lake Ferry

Lake Ferry is a settlement on the south east corner of Lake Onoke. Here the Ruamahanga River flows out to Ocean Beach. The outlet opens and closes with the moving sand and gravel of Onoke Spit. The lake outlet is very popular for beach and whitebait fishing. The area also provides interesting places to walk – in one direction heading up the eastern lake shore, in another direction heading east along the beach past the coastal Okorewa Lagoon or west along Onoke Spit (if the outlet is closed).  

Native wildlife might you see

The lagoon is visited by paradise shelduck, white-faced heron, black shag, little shag, scaup, kingfisher. Gray warbler can be heard in the native vegetation on the scarp adjacent to the lagoon. NZ pipit can be seen in the vegetation on the beach side of the lagoon and banded dotterel nest along the beach. The shore of Lake Onoke hosts visitors such as the royal spoonbill, white-faced heron, pied stilt and wrybill. The outlet is part of an important migratory route for tuna and whitebait species.

History & culture 

Fish and waterfowl were in plentiful supply as food resources for early Maori. Tuna (native freshwater eel) was a major resource and catches were dried for storage or trade. The lagoon area is a recorded archaeological site. This is the site of a historical fishing village called Okorewa.  

Onoke Lagoon - near Lake Ferry

Okorewa Lagoon - near Lake Ferry

Wairarapa Lake Shore Scenic Reserve

This is the only area where native forest (from the Remutaka Range) reaches the lake shore. The lake edge is deeper and stonier that the eastern shore. A day shelter and toilet are fairly recent facilities installed on the reserve. 

Native wildlife might you see 

This area features mainly forest birds including: tui, bellbird, kereru, grey warbler and fantail. Other biodiversity values; forest trees featured include black beech, titoki, nikau, kahikatea and karaka. You are likely to find the shells of kakahi (freshwater mussel) washed up on the shore.

 

Western Lake Road

Western Lake Road

Western Lakeshore

Western Lake shore

Pounui Lagoon

Pounui Lagoon is on the north western corner of Lake Onoke. It is accessed via Western Lake Road. The lagoon is separated from Lake Onoke by a stopbank from which wetland birds can be viewed.

Native wildlife might you see 

Native bird species that use the lagoon include: Australasian shoveler, scaup, grey teal, pukeko and bittern.

Pounui Lagoon

Pounui Lagoon

Pounui Lagoon

Pounui Lagoon

Onoke Spit 

Onoke Spit separates Lake Onoke from the sea. It is accessed at the end Western Lake Road and by crossing a stream. While it appears rugged and somewhat barren the spit is home to precious native plants and animals. This area is popular for walking or 4-wheel driving. You can head east along the spit towards Lake Ferry, west along the beach towards the mouth of the Wharekauhau River or west along the adjacent Kiriwai Lagoon.

Native wildlife might you see 

The spit is a nesting site for several native bird species including the Caspian tern, black-backed gull, red-billed gull, banded dotterel and variable oystercatcher. Other biodiversity values; the large population of sand tussock (Poa billardierei) on Onoke Spit is one of its national strongholds.  Also of interest are the scabweeds including the mat daisy (Raoulia australis) and pinatoro (Pimelea species). A local moth Notoreas perornata is dependent on the pinatoro which grows here. Onoke Spit also provides habitat for the katipo spider. 

History & culture 

The nearby Kiriwai Lagoon area is a recorded archaeological site, being the site of a historical fishing village. This was once the outlet of the Ruamahanga River when it flowed down the western edge of Lake Onoke.

 


Content on this page was last updated: 15/02/2017 11:49am