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Wetland Treasures

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There is a range of threatened wildlife in Ō Tū Wharekai.

Ō Tū Wharekai has been shaped by glaciers and has a variety of habitats which support a large amount of wildlife.

Animals and plants living in Ō Tū Wharekai have special adaptations to help them live through cold winters and hot summers.

Threatened native fish

  • longfin eel/tuna
  • upland longjaw galaxias (small, freshwater fish).

Threatened bird species

  • Australasian bittern/Mātuku
  • black-fronted tern/Tarāpirohe
  • black-billed gull/Tarāpuka
  • wrybill/Ngutu pare
  • banded dotterel/Turiwhatu
  • Australasian crested grebe/Kāmana
  • Caspian tern/Tārā nui.

Threatened lizard species

  • scree skink/mokomoko
  • long-toed skink.

Threatened plant species

  • marsh arrowrush
  • pygmy forget-me-not
  • pygmy clubrush
  • native lily
  • water brome
  • rare grasses.

These wetlands also contain some of the best examples of red tussock and pūkio wetlands in Canterbury.

Audio Māori keywords: 

A good reason to treasure: Saving endangered plants and animals from becoming extinct and protecting their wild places is important for our health and our future.

Value to Māori

Wetland Interconnectedness


Ō Tū Wharekai is home to threatened native fish. What animal is pictured here? Image: LEARNZ.

This is an Australasian crested grebe/Kāmana. What other threatened bird species might you see at Ō Tū Wharekai? Image: LEARNZ.

A small scree skink, one of two threatened lizards that can be found at Ō Tū Wharekai. What is the other one called? Image: LEARNZ.

Special plants can be found in these wetlands. This is a pygmy forget-me-not from an ephemeral tarn. Why do you think it grows so small? Image: LEARNZ.