The National Wetland Trust is working to increase knowledge, appreciation and understanding of the value of wetlands, which support a greater diversity of native birds, fish, invertebrates and plants than most other habitats.
They are also vital in maintaining healthy ecosystems, improve water quality, reduce flood risks and play an important role in managing climate change by acting as carbon sinks. Healthy peat bogs can lock in up to five tons of carbon per hectare – indefinitely. Peat bogs put the carbon we burn back underground.
Wetlands are of great cultural and spiritual significance to Maaori. They provided Maaori with food – wildfowl, tuna (eels) and other freshwater fish. They were also places to grow taro and harvest harakeke (flax) and other materials for medicinal, food, building and crafts.
Despite their great natural wealth, over 90 percent of New Zealand’s wetlands have been drained or filled and many wetland species are threatened with extinction.
Located south of Ohaupo between Hamilton and Te Awamutu, three Rotopiko lakes are remnants of a 10,000-14,000 year old peat lake formed at the end of the ice-age.
Pest eradication and habitat restoration is already creating a safe haven for native wildlife, including North Island fernbird, spotless crake, Australasian bittern and long-tailed bats.
There is a 1.5km wetland discovery trail with activity stations where visitors can learn about different creatures and features.
A new National Wetland Discovery Centre is currently being developed which will be a wildlife sanctuary with research and educational facilities, wetland gardens and heritage trails.