Restoring Ahuriri Lagoon

The Whakaora Te Ahuriri project promises to bring a deteriorating wetland back to life and make Ahuriri Lagoon a place that everyone will enjoy.

Restoring Ahuriri lagoon

Video: Environment Canterbury


Ahuriri Lagoon, near Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere in the distance, is currently a drained and degraded wetland.

But the Whakaora Te Ahuriri project will create a constructed wetland to improve water quality, and improve mahinga kai and biodiversity values.

Below is the Huritini/Halswell River, where a diversion will be created to take water into the old channel of the river.

The old channel is currently clogged with weeds and willows, and can be seen as the light green ribbon that snakes beside the Little River Rail Trail, which is used by cyclists, runners and walkers.

The project will clear this channel, and bring life back to this original feature of the landscape.

The water will then flow into a large, winding wetland, which is currently a long rectangular paddock.

The wetland will be planted with 80,000 water plants to help filter and clean the water, and 50,000 terrestrial plants will fringe the wetland providing habitat to many native birds and other animals.

At the end of the wetland will be a deeper pool and island, which will be a mahinga kai site allowing access for iwi to gather tuna/eel and other species.

The clean water will then re-enter the Huritini/Halswell River after a journey of three-days through the wetland.


About the lagoon

Ahuriri Lagoon is located near Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere in Canterbury. In the past, it was a large body of water surrounded by wetland. It served as an important food source for birds and animals. But in the late 1800s, it was gradually drained. Now it is a mostly-dry grassland.

What the project aims to do

The Whakaora Te Ahuriri project aims to make the lagoon healthy again. The project involves constructing a wetland in the area and introducing a wide variety of plants.

Water will be redirected from the nearby Huritini/Halswell River, pass through the lagoon and then reconnect with the river. This way, water will flow through the new plants. As it passes, the plants will hold on to some of the nutrients and sediments the water is carrying so they can grow better and the water flows cleaner.

In addition to the 80,000 aquatic plants in the water, the Wakaora Te Ahuriri project team will plant 50,000 plants around the lagoon. These plants will provide food and habitats for native birds and wildlife.

With the restoration of this wetland, people will also be able to fish and gather mahinga kai here.

We are proud to support this kaupapa through the Freshwater Improvement Fund.

Find out more

Learn about the Freshwater Improvement Fund

Find out more about the Whakaora Te Ahuriri project [Te Waihora co-governance website].