Wairuna Lagoon - Demonstration Wetland

Wairuna Lagoon - Demonstration Wetland

Angus McKenzie – Wairuna Lagoon, Lowcliffe, Mid Canterbury

Protecting and Restoring Coastal Wetland Habitat

Having a coastal wetland as one of our demonstration sites has enabled the project to focus on an entirely different ecological district, and tell a story from the mountains to the sea. Mid Canterbury’s Wairuna Lagoon is teeming with wildlife including black-billed gulls, New Zealand’s only endemic gull, and native fish species.

The McKenzie wetland is a living example of Canterbury Plains dongas/dry gullies, with an eroded headland and a hapua/river-mouth lagoon butting up against beach gravels. Fenced-off by the McKenzie family several years ago, this wetland shows us the impact of ‘coastal squeeze’ on wetlands along the Canterbury Bight.

In years gone by the lagoon was used as a recreational spot for the district, including the occasional small sailing boat.

Wairuna Lagoon - Demonstration Wetland

The property is arable, sheep and beef and having a wetland management plan will help Angus address challenges around willow control, native planting and protecting coastal habitat.

The site is fed by Boundary Drain which would have originally been part of the Longbeach swamp. It is ideally situated to enhance and protect mahinga kai, including whitebait (inanga or inaka) spawning habitat.

Several years ago, Angus planted native plants in the fenced off area to increase biodiversity and provide food for bees. Unfortunately, many of the varieties did not survive the harsh coastal climate which highlights why plant selection is a very important part of this project.

What to plant and when will be included in the wetland management plan.