Lake Tuakitoto Wetland

Description: A large lowland lake and adjoining swamp, near the coast north of the Clutha River/Mata-Au Mouth. Fed from the inflow of Lovells Creek at the northern end of the wetland. Best remaining example of a previously widespread wetland type. 1
Type/Class: Swamp. 2
Size: 544.0 ha.
Altitude: 0-20 m above sea level.
Approximate location: Lakeside Road, 2 km East of Benhar | NZTM (centre point): E1354600 N4877300.
Regional Plan: Water for Otago | Schedule 9 Regionally Significant Wetland, no.77, Map F39.
Territorial Authority: Clutha District Council.


Interactive map of Lake Tuakitoto Wetland

Recorded Values

Value Description
A1 Habitat for nationally or internationally rare or threatened species or communities. Provides roosting, feeding and breeding habitat for the threatened Australasian Bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus) and Banded Dotterel (Charadrius bicinctus bicinctus). Also breeding area for the uncommon Marsh Crake (Porzana pusilla affinis), Spotless Crake (Porzana tabuensis plumbea) and South Island Fernbird (Bowdleria punctata punctata). Habitat for threatened giant kokopu (Galaxias argenteus). The threatened plant species swamp nettle (Urtica linearifolia) and Isolepis basilaris present on swamp margin. 2
A3 High diversity of wetland habitat types. A diverse mosaic of vegetation types and wildlife habitats. Regionally and nationally important habitat for waterfowl, waders and swamp birds. Supports a significant proportion of the national population of Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) and New Zealand Shoveller/Kuruwhengi (Anas rhynchotis variegata), Grey Teal (Anas gracilis) and Black Swan (Cygnus atratus). All these species breed here. Considered nationally important as a fresh water fishery habitat, supporting longfin eel (Anguilla dieffenbachii), shortfin eel (Anguilla australis), whitebait/inaka (Galaxias spp.) and common bully/pako (Gobiomorphus cotidianus) populations as well as the giant kokopu (Galaxias argenteus) (Davis 1987 97). 1, 39
A5 Scarce in Otago in terms of its ecological or physical character. Less than 15% of swamps remain in Otago. 2
A6 Highly valued by Kai Tahu for cultural and spiritual beliefs, values and uses, including mahika kai and waahi taoka. Wetland highly valued by Kai Tahu for its historical associations, and as a traditional food gathering area. 1
A7 High diversity of indigenous flora and fauna. An exceptionally high diversity of bird life present, a reflection of the high habitat diversity (above). Some 50 species of bird recorded. 1
A9 Significant hydrological values including maintaining water quality and low flows, or reducing flood flows. Lake Tuakitoto and surrounding wetlands perform a valuable hydrological function. Serves as a flood ponding area and is an integral part of the Lower Clutha Flood Control and Drainage Scheme. 1
A2, A4, A8 No relevant information is currently held by the ORC.

Other Information

  • Composition of flax. 2
  • Brown trout (Salmo trutta) present. 39
  • Wetland owned as endowment land by the Otago Regional Council and covered by a conservation notice. 1
  • Freshwater mussels (Hyridella menziesii) within the lake have been found to filter a volume of water equal to that of the lake once every 32 hours, enhancing water clarity. 40

  • Supports a commercial eel fishery, as well as recreational fisheries for perch and brown trout (Salmo trutta). Giant kokopu (Galaxias argenteus) are found in 2 of its tributary streams. 53
  • Listed as a Significant Wetland in the Clutha District Plan. Described as a rush and sedge swamp, lowland lake, with an artificial water level. Also described as number 5 in top 10 New Zealand Wetland Wildlife Habitats, with large numbers of Fernbird (Bowdleria punctata). 37
Aerial View of Lake Tuakitoto Wetland (March 2006)
Lake Tuakitoto Wetland (September 2001) 51
Lake Tuakitoto Wetland (February 2009) 51


1 Otago Regional Council (2004) Regional Plan: Water for Otago. Published by the Otago Regional Council, Dunedin.

2 Ausseil, A.G., Newsome, P., Johnson, P. (2008) Wetland Mapping in the Otago Region. Landcare Research Contract Report prepared for the Otago Regional Council.

37 Clutha District Council (1998) Clutha District Plan. Published by the Clutha District Council, Balclutha.

39 Mitchell, C. (1997) Fish passage issues at Lake Tuakitoto. Conservation Advisory Science Notes No. 142. Published by the Department of Conservation, Wellington.

40 Ogilvie, S. and Mitchell, S. (1995) A model of mussel filtration in a shallow New Zealand Lake, with reference to eutrophication control. In Archiv für Hydrobiologie, Vol.133, pp.471–482.

51 Otago Regional Council – Photo Archive.

53 Davis, S.F. (1987) Wetlands of national importance to fisheries. New Zealand freshwater fisheries report no. 90. Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Christchurch.

Page last updated 12 July 2024.