Ramp, Snapper Graphics
Kopuatai Peat Dome
there is a hidden world in the heart of the Hauraki plains, much loved
by both hunters and ecologists alike - the Kopuatai Peat Dome. It
covers nearly ten thousand hectares.
Walking in the Kopuatai
peatlands is like walking on the crust of a pudding, bouncing along and
every now and again breaking through and sinking up to your thighs. In
places, rushes breaking down underfoot provide a bouncy surface to walk
on, elsewhere sphagnum moss forms a spongy carpet.
Wetlands develop from swamps to bogs over thousands of years. First,
high nutrient species such as raupo, harakeke (flax) and sedges
colonise poorly drained depressions in river terraces or basins. These
plants are replaced by those that need fewer nutrients such as manuka
and tangle fern.
Over time wire rush (Empodisma
takes over and starts to vigorously form peat as the conditions become
more and more acidic, and too low in nutrients and oxygen for bacteria
to break the plant material down. Over thousands of years a gentle dome
is formed, rising above the influence of ground water.
|This is then what defines a bog, an area fed only
The last plant to arrive is the 2.4 m tall giant cane rush (Sporadanthus ferrugineus).
It grows in only three places in the world, all in the Waikato
bogs, and is most abundant in Kopuatai. A mysterious caterpillar
nicknamed “Fred the Thread” has recently been discovered living in
Waikato wetland expert Bev Clarkson says it’s easy
to tell the difference between a swamp and a bog.
"If your gumboots
fill up with water all the time, you are in a swamp. If your feet stay
dry most of the time and the vegetation supports your weight, you are
in a bog." It is an important distinction as the vegetation of the bog
tends to be more fragile, and walking on them has a huge and lasting
Key facts for
- The largest (10,201 ha) unaltered raised bog in New
Zealand, surrounded by swampland and associated lagoons.
- Established as a Ramsar Site on 04/12/89
access to the western mineralised areas and the Waitoa River for duck
- Some of the original kahikatea forest can be seen
the eastern end of the peat dome.
How to get there
Boat access from the end of Tramline Road or Maukoro
Landing Road off SH27 near Patetonga.
Download the RAMSAR
factsheet (144 kb).
Find out more about peat bogs in Dr
Bev Clarkson's key note address at the National Wetland Trust
Read more about Kopuatai Peat Dome in the Directory
of Wetlands in New Zealand (see Chapter 14)
Map courtesy of Waikato Regional Council
Return to our RAMSAR page
Last updated 24 February 2009