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Ō Tū Wharekai

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Ō Tū Wharekai includes the Ashburton Lakes and part of the upper Rangitata River. It is part of a wetland restoration programme called Arawai Kākāriki.

Where is Ō Tū Wharekai?

Ō Tū Wharekai is a wetland area near the head of the Rangitata River, one of the braided rivers that helped form the Canterbury Plains. The Lord of the Rings were filmed in this valley, on and around Mount Sunday.

Ō Tū Wharekai is in the middle of high country tussocklands and surrounded by the Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moana. Ō Tū Wharekai is part of the Hakatere Conservation Park, which opened in October 2007.

Why is Ō Tū Wharekai important?

  • it is one of only a few mountain valley wetlands left in New Zealand
  • it has a high level of biodiversity so is home to a lot of different plants and animals
  • there are different types of wetlands within this area
  • Ō Tū Wharekai is a good spot for hiking and fishing.

Ō Tū Wharekai has the following types of wetlands:

  • braided rivers
  • high country lakes
  • ephemeral tarns
  • streams
  • swamps
  • bogs
  • and kettle holes.

Ō Tū Wharekai is one of three special New Zealand wetlands which are being studied and restored as part of DOC's Arawai Kākāriki project.

Aims for Ō Tū Wharekai

  • keep good water quality
  • look after the wetland habitat
  • have a better range of plants and animals
  • take care of historic and cultural places
  • make services better for the public to visit
  • get help from the community
  • learn more about wetlands.

Audio Māori keywords: 

A wetland near you? As well as Ō Tū Wharekai, find a wetland near you from 40 wetlands you can visit throughout New Zealand.

Monitoring a Wetland

Wetlands of Ō Tū Wharekai


A map of Ō Tū Wharekai. What wetland restoration programme is it part of? Image: LEARNZ.

Ō Tū Wharekai is one of the best groups of wetlands in New Zealand. Why do you think this is? Image: LEARNZ.

Ō Tū Wharekai is important for wildlife. Do you know what these fish are? Image: LEARNZ.

There are different types of wetlands at Ō Tū Wharekai. How many types of wetlands can you list? Image: LEARNZ.

Looking after wetland habitats is one of the aims of Arawai Kākāriki. How could you help wetlands near your place? Image: LEARNZ.