Manawatu Estuary

Other NZ Ramsar sites: Farewell Spit Firth of Thames Kopuatai Awarau Waituna  Whangamarino


The Manawatu Estuary is a well known birding place recognised for the large variety of birds which can be easily seen - 93 species have been identified here!

It is the largest estuary on the West Coast of the southern part of the North Island, about 250 ha in all, comprising sand banks and a large area of salt marsh which is fairly inaccessible. For that reason it is home to rare birds and a good breeding place for native fish.

The estuary is a feeding ground for a flock of godwits and knots from Alaska and Siberia, and every year a Welcome and Farewell to the Birds is held to give the public a close-up view of the different migratory species. These events are held close to the equinox each March and October. 

Manawatu  godwits2  Key facts for visitors
  • Birding site, see a large variety of birds from the Dawick Street viewing platform which also has a bird identification sign
  • Established as a Ramsar Site on 25/7/2005.
  • Ramsar Monument in the esplanade by the wharf and boating club.
  • The Manawatu Estuary Trust play a significant role in looking after and advising on the management of this area. They have produced an educational CD ROM.
  • Holben Reserve has a picnic spot, toilets, etc, and there is a café at the beach end of the reserve.


How to get there

The estuary is at Foxton Beach, 5 km west of State Highway 1 in Foxton.

Walking access off Holben Parade, park by the picnic shelter, or drive down a sandy track past the old boat club.


More information

Download an article on Manawatu Estuary by Peter Frost (556 kb)

Read an article on the Estuary in our Newsletter #9 Spring 2005 (813 kb)

Read the Manawatu Estuary Management Plan by the Manawatu Estuary Trust (1.5 Mb) and the Ramsar Information Sheet describing the values of the site.

Get up-to-date information on shorebirds at the estuary from New Zealand Birding.

Read more about Manawatu Estuary in the Directory of Wetlands in New Zealand.

Return to our RAMSAR page   


Spring 2005


Ramsar Information Sheet