The Wairarapa Moana Wetlands is made up of the beds of Lake Wairarapa and Lake Onoke and the publicly owned reserves around them. This covers over 9,000 hectares, from Lake Domain in the north to Onoke Spit, 30km away, at Palliser Bay.
The area contains mudflats, lagoons, sand flats, marshlands, salt marshes and back waters which are regularly flooded or exposed, depending on the season.
Wetland grasses and turf plants are competing for survival with introduced plants such as willows and alders. Introduced ducks, geese, and swans form a large part of the birdlife, although there are still many native species including wading birds. Introduced fish compete with the original aquatic wildlife of the area. Fishing is popular – for brown trout and our native whitebait and eels.
Over the years, weather patterns, manipulating the lake levels, clearances and drainage for farming have impacted on the size and nature of the wetlands and surrounding private pasture land.
Restoration projects to restore the balance of nature on the public land are supported by farmers and the wider community, with the Department of Conservation, iwi, regional and local councils working together to protect the wetlands for future recreational enjoyment.