The Wetland Book pp 1977-1990 | Cite as

Wetlands of New Zealand

  • Karen DenyerEmail author
  • Hugh RobertsonEmail author
Reference work entry


New Zealand is an archipelago located in the South Pacific Ocean comprising two large islands and numerous smaller islands spread over 23° of latitude. It has a relatively wet climate with mean annual rainfall of around 600–4,000 mm per year depending on geographic region. The landscape is geologically active and varied, dominated in different regions by mountains, glacial valleys, volcanic plateaus, broad floodplains, and lowlands, with an extensive coastline. Here we provide an overview of New Zealand wetlands, describing the key wetland types, flora and fauna, progress with implementing the Ramsar Convention relevant wetland policy, approaches to restoration, and cultural connections. The focus is on freshwater and estuarine systems, particularly palustrine wetlands such as bogs, fens, swamps, and marshes.


New Zealand wetlands pressures management threatened species 


  1. Ausseil A, Chadderton L, Gerbeaux P, Stephens RT, Leathwick JR. Applying systematic conservation planning principles to palustrine and inland saline wetlands of New Zealand. Freshw Biol. 2011;56:142–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Clarkson B, Watts C, Sorrell B, Bartlam S, Thornburrow D, Fitzgerald N, Chague-Goff C, Bodmin K, Champion P. Biotic composition of New Zealand lowland wetlands: I vegetation and II invertebrates. Landcare Research Contract Report [LC0708/142]. Hamilton: Landcare Research; 2008.Google Scholar
  3. Clarkson BR, Champion PD, Rance BD, Johnson PN, Bodmin KA, Forester L, Gerbeaux P, Reeves PN. Wetland indicator status ratings for New Zealand species. Unpublished report. Hamilton: Landcare Research; 2013. Available from: Accessed 30 Dec 2105.
  4. Clarkson BR, Overton JM, Ausseil AGE, Robertson HA. Towards quantitative limits to maintain the ecological integrity of freshwater wetlands: interim report. Landcare Research Contract Report [LC1933]. Hamilton: Landcare Research; 2015.Google Scholar
  5. de Lange PJ, Norton DA, Courtney SP, Heenan PB, Barkla JW, Cameron EK, Hitchmough R, Townsend AJ. Threatened and uncommon plants of New Zealand (2008) revision. N Z J Bot. 2009;47:61–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Denyer K, Robertson H. National guidelines for the assessment of potential Ramsar wetlands in New Zealand. 2016. Department of Conservation, Wellington.Google Scholar
  7. Department of Conservation. National report on the implementation of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Wellington: Department of Conservation; 2011.Google Scholar
  8. Department of Conservation, Ministry for the Environment. New Zealand biodiversity strategy. Wellington: Department of Conservation/Ministry for the Environment; 2000.Google Scholar
  9. Goodman JM, Dunn NR, Ravenscroft PJ, Allibone RM, Boubee JAT, David BO, Griffiths M, Ling N, Hitchmough RA, Rolfe JR. Conservation status of New Zealand freshwater fish, 2013. Wellington: Department of Conservation; 2014. 12 p.Google Scholar
  10. Graeme A. Taylor. 2013. Conservation status of New Zealand birds, 2012. New Zealand Threat Classification Series 4. Department of Conservation, Wellington. p.9.Google Scholar
  11. Hugh A. Robertson, John E. Dowding, Graeme P. Elliott, Rodney A. Hitchmough, Colin M. Miskelly, Colin F.J. O’Donnell, Ralph G. Powlesland, Paul M. Sagar, R. Paul Scofield.Google Scholar
  12. Johnson P, Gerbeaux P. Wetland types in New Zealand. Wellington: Department of Conservation; 2004.Google Scholar
  13. McGlone MC. Postglacial history of New Zealand wetlands and implications for their conservation. N Z J Ecol. 2009;33:1–23.Google Scholar
  14. Miskelly CM, Dowding JE, Elliott GP, Hitchmough RA, Powlesland RG, Robertson HA, Sagar PM, Scofield RP, Taylor GA. Conservation status of New Zealand birds. Notornis. 2008;55(3):117–35.Google Scholar
  15. Myers SC, Clarkson BR, Reeves PN, Clarkson BD. Wetland management in New Zealand: are current approaches and policies sustaining wetland ecosystems in agricultural landscapes? Ecol Eng. 2013;56:107–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. O’Brien L, Dunn NR. Mudfish (Neochanna galaxiidae) literature review, Science for conservation 277. Wellington: Department of Conservation; 2007. p. 88.Google Scholar
  17. Peters MA, D Hamilton, C Eames. Action on the ground: A review of community environmental groups’ restoration objectives, activities and partnerships in New Zealand. 2015. New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2015) 39(2):179–189.Google Scholar
  18. Robertson HA. Ramsar wetlands in NZ: why are they important and where are we going? Waiology; 2013. Available from: Accessed 30 Dec 2015.
  19. Robertson HA. Wetland reserves in New Zealand: the status of protected areas between 1990 and 2013. N Z J Ecol. 2016;40(1):1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Robertson HA, Funnell EP. Aquatic plant dynamics of Waituna Lagoon, New Zealand: trade-offs in managing opening events of a Ramsar site. Wetl Ecol Manag. 2012;20(5):433–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Suren A, Sorrell B. Aquatic invertebrate communities of lowland wetlands in New Zealand. Characterising spatial, temporal and geographic distribution patterns, Science for conservation 305. Wellington: Department of Conservation; 2010.Google Scholar
  22. Taylor R, Smith I (Principal authors). The state of New Zealand’s environment. Wellington: NZ Government Printer; 1997.Google Scholar
  23. Woodward C, Shulmeister J, Larsen J, Jacobsen GE, Zawadzki A. The hydrological legacy of deforestation on global wetlands. Science. 2014;346(6211):844–7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Wetland TrustCambridge, WaikatoNew Zealand
  2. 2.Freshwater SectionDepartment of ConservationNelsonNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations