DOC is working with the wider community on an exciting project to restore the Waimea Inlet, adjacent to the city of Nelson.

Waimea Inlet is the largest semi-enclosed estuary in the South Island.

It is an important example of this ecosystem type. It provides habitat for:

  • rare or threatened native plants and animals, and
  • important populations of coastal wetland birds and migratory wading birds.

But the values of the Waimea Inlet ecosytem have been severely degraded and a restoration project is underway.

Ecosystem threats

Waimea Inlet ecosystems are under threat from:

  • excess silt flowing in and building up from land clearance and modification
  • pollution from sewage, industrial wastes and agricultural runoff
  • invasion by introduced weed and animal pest species
  • reclamation and extraction of sand, gravel and/or the land itself, which has ‘hardened’ the estuarine margin. 

These threats reduce the buffering ability of native habitats and species to migrate inland in response to sea level rise. They also limit the opportunities to restore representative sequences of native vegetation communities. 

Restoration project

Waimea Inlet landowners, DOC, councils and stakeholders are all working together to restore Waimea Inlet. 

DOC has been coordinating several projects in the Waimea Inlet and building up a picture of the biodiversity restoration work underway so that any gaps can be filled. 

We are also linking restoration groups with funding options, monitoring opportunities, and other similar projects in the inlet. 

This project intends to build on existing collective work (eg, the Waimea Inlet Forum and Battle for the Banded Rail project) to improve the health of the inlet.

View the Waimea Inlet restoration resource (PDF, 1,096K)

Restoration benefits

Restoration of the Waimea Inlet and surrounding areas will provide benefits for native biodiversity, such as:

  • the return of threatened native fish to streams and wetlands,
  • the creation of habitat for other native species, like banded rail
  • redressing the excessive loss of some ecosystems in the landscape
  • preventing their regional extinction, especially lowland ecosystems
  • preventing more extinctions of our native plants and animals by providing them with adequate habitat
  • enhancing the populations of those native species that have managed to persist.

There will also be direct benefits to humans through:

  • cleaner water in streams entering the estuary, and the wider Tasman Bay
  • improved access to kaimoana
  • improved amenity, health and cultural values
  • increased sense of respect for, and enjoyment of, our own unique natural heritage
  • improved amenity and landscape values for communities living and recreating in this area.
  • reduced build-up of sedimentation, to protect against flooding, sea-level rise and storm events.


Motueka Office
Phone:   0800 275 362
Address:   406 High Street
Motueka 7120
Postal Address:   406 High Street
Motueka 7120
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