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Te Matuku Marine Reserve

Te Matuku Marine Reserve (690ha) protects one of Waiheke Island’s largest and least disturbed estuaries and an area outside Te Matuku Bay in the Waiheke Channel.

A special feature of the reserve is its diverse mix of habitats. It has saltwater wetlands, broad intertidal mudflats, low lying islands, shell spits, rocky shorelines and the deep water of the Waiheke Channel around Passage Rock. Each of these distinct marine habitats provide homes for particular groups of plants and animals.


The estuary extends from the seaward edge of the intertidal zone, over 28 hectares of mudflats, towards the land. Fine silty muds dominate this area, largely derived from sediment washed from the surrounding land.

A sequence of plants - from eel grass on the mudflats through mangrove and salt marsh, to maritime fringing bush and finally up into lowland broadleaf forest - is special because such natural successions of changing plant communities are now rare in northern New Zealand.

The eel grass (Zostera) grows patchily across the lower mudflats and may help stabilise the lower shore. The soft mudflats and intertidal sands of the bay provide habitat for a variety of shellfish such as cockles, pipi and wedge shells, and some seashore snails, crabs and worms.

All provide rich pickings for wading birds at low tide and, as the tide rises, juvenile flounder and mullet move in to feed on this abundant invertebrate marine life in the bay.

Close to the head of Te Matuku Bay, mangroves grow in dense stands, especially along the banks of channels that run out onto the mudflats. The mangrove stands are havens for mud snails, mud crabs and other creatures which feed on the leaf litter and they are also a refuge for the birds that feed on these animals.

Behind the mangroves, the salt marsh of glasswort, rushes and sedges is submerged only by the high spring tides. It is fringed by salt meadow that includes a range of mostly herbaceous plants such as sea goosefoot, sea plantain, sea primrose, remuremu, shore celery and bachelor’s button.

Find out more on the DoC website, or visit the following link(s): 

The reserves Order in Council.

The Forest and Bird Application for the reserve.

News Article from BiodiversityNZ - "Marine reserve off Waiheke to open."

News Article from the Beehive - "New marine reserve off Waiheke Island." Sponsors