Restoring Ōtuwharekai

Name of case study

 Restoring Ōtuwharekai


Hakatere Ashburton, New Zealand


 2007 – Ongoing


Landscape scale

Area / size

80637 hectares

NbS employed

Wetlands: restoration/preservation

Type of NbS

Ecosystem restoration


Department of Conservation


Department of Conservation


Not stated

Design group

  • Te Rūnanga o Arowhenua
  • Environment Canterbury
  • Fish and Game New Zealand
  • Ashburton District Council
  • Forest and Bird
  • Rangitat Landcare Group
  • Land Information New Zealand
  • Cawthorn Institute
  • Lake Clearwater back owners
  • Landowners
  • Recreational groups
Ōtuwharekai. Photo by Department of Conservation. 
Arawai Kākāriki wetland restoration programme. Photo by Department of Conservation. 
Climate change benefits
  • Biomass cover loss
  • freshwater flooding
  • increased pests or spread of weeds
  • reduced water quality
Societal / socio-cultural benefits
  • Biodiversity health and conservation
  • water security and quality
Ecological benefits
  • Biological control
  • creation of a sense of place
  • disturbance prevention
  • education and knowledge
  • habitat provision
  • species maintenance

Summary of case study

The Ōtuwharekai restoration project is part of the Arawai Kākāriki wetland restoration program which is restoring five significant wetland sites in Aotearoa New Zealand (Department of Conservation, 2019). The restoration efforts for this specific site are focused on predator control, weed control, monitoring, and improving water quality (Department of Conservation, 2015). Because of this program, the wetland habitat has increased since 2007 by 3 hectares. This has increased the area of restored managed wetland and reduced agricultural land in the area which contributed to water degradation within the wetland area (Department of Conservation 2015). 

A large part of the restoration efforts at the Ōtuwharekai site include removal of invasive weed species in order for native plantings to be established within the site better (Department of Conservation, 2019). This will allow better resilience to increased flooding in the area given climate change. 

For the success of this restoration project, the Department of Conservation has worked alongside many other organisations as well as volunteers. This has provided an education program but also allowed for more people to get involved with restoring the environment. This has had a large positive social impact. Community volunteers and students have helped with planting efforts (Department of Conservation 2019). 

Over 12,000 ha of the upper Rangitata River is now under predator control. Benefitting threatened species such as wrybills, black-fronted terns, and kaki (black stilts) (Department of Conservation, 2018).

Ōtuwharekai. Nests of Kaki and other braided river birds are vulnerable to predators. Photo by Department of Conservation.  
Ōtuwharekai The critically endangered Craspedia (heron) only grows near Lake Heron. Photo by Department of Conservation. 

Further resources:

<< Wetlands: restoration / preservation