Manawatu Estuary Trust Manawatu Estuary Trust Manawatu Estuary Trust


Locating the Estuary

Things to Do

Plants and Animals


Bird Species List


New Year Fair
The Manawatu Estuary Trust Inc. is a community conservation group dedicated to looking after the Manawatu River estuary. We rely on volunteers and donations to run. Much of the Trust's work involves educating the community on the importance of the area, introducing people to its interesting features (including birdwatching trips), and advising the organisations in control of the area as to management. The mission of the Trust is to promote the protection of the natural environment of the Manawatu Estuary, by:

Protection - to develop sustainable policies of protection, including by regulatory protocols.
Education - to educate the public on the importance of the Manawatu Estuary.
Facilities - to establish and manage such facilities as are required to achieve the Trust's objectives.
Research - to encourage scientific research.
Eco-tourism - to encourage environmentally sustainable eco-tourism.
Co-operation - to co-operate with other organizations, including international bodies having mutual interests.

The Manawatu estuary lies at the mouth of the Manawatu River on the west coast of the lower North Island of New Zealand, beside the settlement of Foxton Beach. The estuary is a very important habitat for native wildlife and also provides opportunities for recreation, so it's important the area is looked after. The official organisations in charge of the estuary are: Horizons Regional Council (Manawatu), Horowhenua District Council, and the Department of Conservation.

98% of Manawatu's wetlands have already been lost, but wetlands are a very important ecosystem. They purify water (and have been described as the kidneys of the planet), as well as buffering against flooding and other weather extremes and providing food sources for both humans and things humans eat. Estuaries are the most productive ecosystems in the world. The Manawatu Estuary was designated a Wetland of International Importance in July 2005, one of six wetland areas in New Zealand to have gained RAMSAR status. The Trust played a role in gaining this recognition.

Achieving RAMSAR status was a large step forward in protecting the Manawatu Estuary for the future. The Ramsar Convention (or Convention on Wetlands) is a treaty signed by over 150 countries wherein they agree to be part of international cooperation regarding the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands.

The area designated as a RAMSAR site is about 200 hectares in size, situated at 40°29'S 175°14'E. It is an estuary of moderate size, though the largest in the lower North Island. It includes regions of sand dunes, mudflats, and salt marshes. The salt marshes and salt meadows are very hard to access, so have been left relatively undisturbed by humans.
Area of the estuary with Ramsar status. The estuary fulfills six of the eight RAMSAR requirements. 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. 1% of New Zealand's wrybill population winters here each year, and more of them use the estuary as a stop over on their annual migrations. The estuary is a very necessary conduit 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 Arctic migrants each year who make the trip all the way around the world from Alaska and Siberia. A number of other migratory birds are occasionally found at the estuary. A very high diversity of birds and fish is supported by these waters; 110 species of birds have been recorded here, so the estuary holds one of the greatest bird diversities in the country.

Map of the estuary
Map showing the different regions of the estuary.

The birds are one of the most obvious and popular creatures of the estuary. See here a list of what you might see, along with some information on identifying them.

At the estuary
Click here to download a two page, black and white flyer (250 Kb) containing maps and information on birds and plants for those spending time on the estuary.

CD Rom available.
To educate the public on the importance of the Manawatu Estuary, the Trust can supply a CD.

Trust Membership and Newsletters

The Annual Subscription for the year from 1 September is $20.00 for an individual, a family, a group or an organisation. (This is for one vote, and one newsletter per subscription.) Donations of over $5.00 are tax deductible.

The Trust produces occasional newsletters. Download pdfs here:
May 2009
November 2009
August 2010

Postal address: Manawatu Estuary Trust, PO Box 11, Foxton.
Secretary: Mark Zaremba, ph 06 323 4191
Chair: Jill Rapson, ph 06 358 9088
Vice-Chair: Joan Leckie, ph 06 368-1277

The Manawatu Estuary Trust is a member of Environment Network Manawatu.

Upcoming Events

2010 AGM - Saturday 27 November, 2pm, Holben Pavilion - featuring a talk by Jesse Conklin on godwits - see here for details!
AGM talk

Welcome to the Birds event -
held: Sunday 10 October, at 12.30pm on Holben Parade - see articles below for details!
The godwits are coming!
and The welcome party!

Latest Birding News

Birds seen on the estuary: DATE

• Bar-tailed godwits

• Golden plover

• Spoonbill

Disclaimer: Please take care down in our estuary. Watch for tides and flood debris. We accept no liability for your activities. While we've done our best to ensure the accuracy of the information herein, we make no guarantees.

Copyright © 2010; Web design: R.A. van Essen, Technical support: William Demchick