National Wetland Centre


The National Wetland Trust plans to build a state-of-the-art interpretation centre, at Rotopiko/Lake Serpentine, with research and educational facilities, wetland gardens, heritage trails and a pest-free wildlife haven. 

The reserve in the Waikato Region, between Hamilton and Te Awamutu is open to the public. Access is via double wooden gates off SH 3, between McFall and Jary Roads (left hand turn in and out only). Pedestrian access into the reserve is via a sliding gate in the pest-proof fence. No dogs or smoking are permitted inside the reserve. We have recently installed an interactive Discovery Trail for families.

Schools/groups - please contact us prior to visiting to register your visit, recieve a health and safety briefing and avoid clashes with other events.

Pest eradication and habitat restoration has begun to create a safe haven for native wildlife, including North Island fernbird, spotless crake, Australasian bittern and long-tailed bats.

We are looking for sponsors and donations to help with the restoration of the site.  The Trust is also keen to hear from willing volunteers. Contact us if you would like to help with this exciting project!

See our events page for details of upcoming working bees and other public events at the site.


Plans and progress

Lake Serpentine is near Ohaupo, between Hamilton and Te Awamutu. Close to Hamilton Airport, Mystery Creek (home of Field Days), Karapiro world class rowing facility, Otorohanga Bird House, Waitomo Caves and Maungatautari Ecological Island.

An exciting visitor concept plan (600 kb), interpretation plan (1 mb) and  landscape plan (6 mb) have been developed for the site. These were funded by grants from Transpower, Trust Waikato and Waikato Regional Council (Environmental Initiatives Fund), and supported by Waipa District Council.

We have also updated our business plan - see pdf.

We also commissioned an analysis of the best way to restore wildlife, including assessing the feasibility of a predator exclusion fence (3 mb). This was funded by a grant from the Waikato Catchment Ecological Enhancement Trust (WCEET). A grant from the Department of Conservation’s Community Conservation Fund allowed us to produce a re-vegetation plan (3 mb) to restore vegetation and habitat.

Students of Te Awamutu School have been searching for native and exotic fauna, and have been the first to confirm long-tailed bats at the site. See the results in this report. Other species confirmed here include Australasian bittern, North Island fernbird, black mudfish and spotless crake.

See a series of posters outlining our plans for the Wetland Centre.


wai ora poster

Overview of proposed Wetland Centre for NZ


wetland centre the place poster

Describes Serpentine Lakes complex


wildlife haven poster

About pest exclusion and re-introductions


why wetlands poster

General poster about wetland values and needs


the national wetland trust poster

Promotional poster about NWT


Funding Success!

The National Wetland Trust was one of 22 recipients of significant Waikato River Clean-Up Trust grants. The Fund has granted the Trust up to $600,000 towards restoration of the Lake Serpentine complex. This is a significant boost towards the Trust's aim to build and operate a National Wetland Education Centre. In 2012, the Trust awarded $5.4M of grants to clean up the Waikato River.

We have also recieved generous donations from Waikato Catchment Ecological Enhancement Trust, Lottery Environment and Heritage Fund, Living Water (Fonterra/DOC partnership), Waikato Regional Council, Trust Waikato and the DOC Community Fund.

Design Brief

The architects will design a building with the following qualities:

  • A distinctive New Zealand character.
  • Eco-friendly and energy efficient.
  • Integrated with the surrounding landscape design.
  • Visually appealing and creative - to draw people in and hold their attention.

The landscapers will design a landscape that:

  • is part of the educational package, creative, innovative, inspiring
  • is integrated with the building design
  • has a totally indigenous character
  • demonstrates as many wetland types as feasible
  • exhibits wetland flora (and fauna if feasible)
  • is disability-friendly
  • is a lead-in to the walkway to Lake Serpentine
  • caters for the needs of children
  • has areas where groups can congregate at places of special interest
  • makes allowance for a possible future plant nursery.