Waikawa River Restoration Project

Waikawa River Restoration Project is a 1 year DOC Biodiversity Condition Fund project situated in the south, eastern corner of Southland adjoining the Catlins area. The river flows into the Waikawa Harbour, a tidal estuary that empties into Porpoise Bay at the eastern end of Foveaux Strait.

The river is notable in the region for having retained its natural bed and meandering course, with a remarkably high abundance of remnant lowland kowhai-ribbonwood forest still being present along its margins. Many threatened plant species are found in forest remnants on private land in the valley with farmers actively protecting these areas.

The river itself is rich in fish life, supporting good populations of lamprey (kanakana), brown trout, longfin eel (tuna), giant kokopu, redfin bully, common bullies and koura. The Waikawa Estuary is well used by locals for collecting shellfish and is designated as a Wetland of National Importance to fisheries for the nursery habitat it provides for flounder, giant kokopu, eels and lamprey among others. The Estuary is also an important breeding ground for the threatened Hectors Dolphin. The estuary contains breeding populations of fernbirds and bitterns and provides feeding grounds for an abundance of godwits, white-faced herons, wrybills, pied stilts, spur-winged plovers and others.