Waikouaiti River Estuary Wetland Complex

Description: Remnant saltmarsh above coastal marine area near mouth of Waikouaiti River. Also known as Mertons Swamp. 1

Type/Class: Swamp and Saltmarsh 2

Size: 71.4 ha.

Altitude: 0-20 m above sea level.

Approximate location: Southwest of the intersection of Coast Road and Waikouaiti-Waitati Road, Karitane.
NZTM (centre point): E1415550 N4945430

Regional Plan: Water for Otago. Schedule 9 Regionally Significant Wetland, no.165, Map F56.

Territorial Authority: Dunedin City Council.


Interactive map of Waikouaiti River Estuary Wetland Complex

Recorded Values

Value Description
 A4 High degree of wetland naturalness. 1
 A5 Scarce in Otago in terms of its ecological or physical character. Scarce wetland type. Saltmarsh community with scarce glasswort (Sarcocornia quinqueflora) and jointed rush (Juncus articulatus). 1 Less than 15% of swamps and marshes remain in Otago. 2
A1-A3, A6-A7 No relevant information is currently held by the ORC.

Other Information

  • Supports recreational fisheries for trout, whitebait/inanga (Galaxias spp.), mullet and flounder. “53”
  • The Merton Tidal Arm became a Wildlife Management Reserve in 1980. “53”
  • Listed as an Area of Significant Conservation Value in the Dunedin City District Plan. Described as estuary with mudflat and succulent herb swamp, and of regional and local significance. “28”
  • Included in the Statutory Acknowledgement for Te Tauraka Poti (Merton Tidal Arm). This was a major area of mahinga kai for kainga and a pa was located on the coast north of the Otago Peninsula. The wetlands were a rich source of kai, including tuna (eels), black flounder (Rhombosolea retiaria), giant kokopu (Galaxias argenteus) and waterfowl. The wetlands were particularly valued as a spawning ground for whitebait/inanga (Galaxias spp.). “19”
  • Presence of saltmarsh, ribbonwood, and native rushes and sedges. “72”
  • Native fauna recorded at the wetland include Pied Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) and Paradise Shelduck/Putangitangi (Tadorna variegata). “72”
  • Part of the area includes QEII covenant 5/12/091.
Aerial view of Waikouaiti River Estuary Wetland Complex (March 2006)


Waikouaiti River Estuary Wetland Complex (2010) “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.

19. Otago Regional Council (2009) Regional Plan: Coast for Otago. Published by the Otago Regional Council, Dunedin.

28. Dunedin City Council (1999) Dunedin City District Plan. Published by the Dunedin City Council, Dunedin.

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.

72. Forester-Pratt, C. (2001) Waikouaiti "No Shooting" Wetland McGrath Road, Cherry Farm. Internal Report. File RI 120/Object ID 00536964. Otago Regional Council, Dunedin.


Page last updated 13 July 2024.