Waitangi Estuary covers an area of 240 ha where Muddy Creek, Ngaruroro, Tutaekuri and Clive Rivers meet the sea. State Highway 2 runs through the wetland which is approximately 10 minutes drive from both Hastings and Napier.
What you will find
Vehicle access to both the wetland and the coast is through a signposted gate between the two bridges north of Clive. Parking is available but overnight camping is not permitted because of the risk of flooding. Cycle and walking access is via the Landscapes Ride of Hawke's Bay Trails. The lower reaches of the rivers are popular for fishing, whitebaiting, rowing, kayaking, jetski-ing and kite surfing. Boat access is at the reserve on the right bank and seaward of the Clive Bridge.
We want to ensure people can enjoy their water sports and fishing in safety so Navigation Safety Bylaws apply in the rivers restricting activities to specific zone - check out the bylaws. We also want to protect the nesting areas of birds and the protective beach crest from erosion, so public vehicle access is not permitted along the coast at East Clive between the Tukituki Estuary and the Ngaruroro River mouth at Awatoto.
Waitangi ranks within the top 10 wetlands in the region that require protection and enhancement as determined by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council. This area provides a variety of wetland and coastal habitats that support a significant population of bird species - a similar area nearby is the Tukituki Estuary.
Because of the presence of rich natural resources (birds, fish and plants) the area has always been important to Maori and was the site of a Pa in the 1800’s. This was washed away in 1897. At the reserve by the Waitangi Estuary entrance you can see the memorial marking the site of William Colenso’s Mission Station.
The estuary initially linked the Ngaruroro and Tukituki river mouths and in the late 1800’s was where a small ferry boat was needed to transport people and goods across the rivers. Significant changes have occurred since then as a result of storms and coastal erosion.
The construction of the Heretaunga Plains Flood Control Scheme in the 1960 and 70s further altered the wetlands. Numerous stopbanks and pump stations were constructed along these rivers and Muddy Creek south to the Tukituki River to provide flood protection and drainage to extensive areas of land between Napier and Hastings. While this was important for the economic development of Hawke’s Bay, it did help to destroy an extensive wetland system over this area.
The restoration of some of the wetland areas now is helping to provide habitats for seabirds, water fowl, fish, insects and plants along this coastline.