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Day 2

Morning: A flat easy boardwalk

Tidal lagoons nature reserve near Blenheim Tidal lagoons nature reserve near Blenheim
Wairau Lagoon and Waverley Shipwreck @The Intrepid Life Wairau Lagoon and Waverley Shipwreck @The Intrepid Life

The family is off to find a rusting shipwreck without getting your feet wet. A flat easy boardwalk introduces family members to the habitat of the Wairau Lagoon as well as the rusting hulk of the Waverley wreck sitting on the estuary mud. The lagoon has witnessed people seafood gathering for over 800 years. Today it is a rich feeding ground for numerous birds and fish. This is a free DOC walkway.

Getting there

The main access point is from the end of Hardings Road, which leaves State Highway 1, 5 km south of Blenheim. There is a carpark and information.

Duration 3 hours return flat boardwalk.

Royal Spoonbill New Zealand bird resident Wairau Lagoon

Dept of Conservation guide information, “Nature and conservation. The Wairau lagoons have formed over the last 6,500 years behind a 8 km-long boulder bank created from gravel and stones washed up the coast by sea currents. Water from the surrounding hills gathers behind the boulder bank and combines with the tide flushing in and out each day. Specialised plants and animals have colonised habitats between the high and low water marks, some of which are more ‘productive’ than the best pasture.

There are plenty of birds to see here – a bird book and pair of binoculars would be a useful addition to your equipment.

History and culture

The productivity of the Wairau lagoons drew Maori to hunt for food. It is thought that some of the channels have been made or extended to help trap moulting birds or eels.

Evidence from the boulder bank confirms some very early camps were made there and where the now-extinct moa were hunted and eaten.

Know before you go

  • Hot, dry conditions and strong, cold winds are common in this area.
  • Open fires are not permitted at any of the East Coast reserves and only portable stoves should be used for cooking.
  • Watch out for wasps, especially in late summer and autumn.”
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