Other NZ Ramsar sites:
Farewell Spit Firth of Thames Kopuatai Manawatu Estuary Awarua Waituna



Whangamarino is like a lost paradise to hunters, conservationists and local iwi alike.  Largely obscured from the road along State Highway 1 in the northern Waikato, the wetland brings rich rewards with fascinating plant and animal life for those who take the time to head off the main road east of Meremere. 

The richness of the environment here has made Whangamarino a great resource, supporting eeling on a commercial scale, coal mining in its mineral rich environs, pastoral grazing and gamebird shooting. For Maori, the Whangamarino was once an incredibly rich source of food, renowned by the Tainui people of Waikato for its ability to feed great numbers of people gathering for hui (meetings). 

Rare animal and plant species have also found a haven in the Whangamarino area, including; 

• The largest population of Australasian bittern in the world. 

• The only remaining New Zealand location for the extremely rare, tiny swamp helmet orchid (Corybas carsei). 

• One of the remaining strongholds of the black mudfish, (Neochanna diversus).  

It is a challenge to find a place for the many users to share, but to protect its future, its water levels were raised, and draining of the area for pasture no longer continues.  In 1999, the Whangamarino Weir was constructed to increase the area of wetlands. After good rainfall this greatly expanded wetland area provides an excellent feeding and roosting habitat for dabbling duck, mallard, grey and shoveler along with other species.  

Key facts for visitors

  • The second largest peat bog and swamp complex on the North Island.
  • 5,923 ha Stewardship Area managed by the Department of Conservation
  • Established as a Ramsar site on 04/12/89
How to get there

See our Whangamarino wetland Trail guide for more information. Copies available from information centres in the Waikato Region.

View the main part of the wetland from Island Block Road and near Falls Road Bridge. 

Walking access into the wetland is along Falls Road. Visitor facilities are being developed by the Department of Conservation

Launch a kayak or boat at the beginning of Island Block road. You can either head north up the Maramarua river or follow the Whangamarino River eastwards. 

More information

Read more about Whangamarino Wetland in the Directory of Wetlands in New Zealand (see Chapter 11).

Read about the Department of Conservation's Arawai Kakariki project to enhance Whangamarino wetland.

Map of Whangamarino
Map courtesy of Waikato Regional Council

Return to our RAMSAR page.