The Wonders of Our Estuary
At 880 square hectares, the Avon-Heathcote Estuary (Ihutai) is one of New Zealand’s more important wetlands. It’s also the largest semi-enclosed estuary in Canterbury and counts nearly 200 species of invertebrates, 37 different fish species and around 141 kinds of birds among its residents.
But it’s not only important to New Zealand’s ecosystem – our estuary is a critical part of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. This Flyway is a corridor for bird migrations, spanning from here in New Zealand, up to Myanmar and across to Alaska, and covers a vast portion of the Pacific Ocean.
Teeming With Animal Life
With nearly 400 species of animals, the estuary on New Brighton’s doorstep is a vital part of New Zealand’s ecosystem. It sees a diverse mixture of freshwater creatures and seawater life as the Avon (Otākaro) and Heathcote (Ōpāwaho) rivers meet the Pacific Ocean.
Godwits and Other Famous Birds
The most famous of our birdlife residents are the godwits. These birds travel all the way to their breeding grounds in Alaska and require a lot of rest and food for the journey.
But the estuary is also home to a number of other birds, such as oystercatchers, banded dotterel, spoonbills and grey teal, to name a few.
Protecting Our Estuary
We want to ensure that the estuary is here for everyone to enjoy, now and in the future. To do this, we need to protect it and the lives of the animals that live there. There are several ways you can help us with this:
- Stay away from the birds when walking within the estuary area
- Keep dogs on a lead at all times, and don’t let them chase the birds
- If you’re on the water in a kayak or windsurfing, stay away from birds to not disturb them
- Litter can harm the estuary wildlife, so always take your rubbish with you and dispose of it responsibly