Birds of the Wairarapa and where to see them
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Oporua Floodway

Oporua Floodway
Oporua Floodway

The Oporua Floodway provides marshy, wading habitat favoured by shorebirds, herons and egrets. This is the one place in the Wairarapa where in late spring-summer and early autumn you can see migratory arctic shorebirds. The Floodway was built as part of a flood control scheme that took the overflow when the Ruamahanga River flooded.

The flood waters are contained in the Lake by a series of barrage gates until water levels reach a certain peak when the gates are opened to release the excess water in a controlled confined manner. This scheme has afforded significant control of the Ruamahanga River floods and resulted in thousands of acres of adjacent swamp country being turned into productive farms without the yearly fear of pasture and stock loss each winter. The roadway you follow is on top of a major levee.

Birds to look for: Shorebirds are never here in large numbers, but over the years a wide range of species have been recorded. Commonest are Bar-tailed Godwit, Lesser Knot and Pacific Golden Plover. Others which have been seen include Sharp-tailed, Pectoral and Curlew Sandpipers, Turnstone, Greenshank, Lesser Yellowlegs, and Marsh Sandpiper.

Resident birds here include Banded Dotterel, Black-fronted Dotterel (especially winter), Spur-winged Plover, Pied Stilt, Pukeko, Black Swan, Canada Goose, Mallard, Paradise Shelduck, Royal Spoonbill, Caspian Tern, Black Shag, Skylark and New Zealand Pipit.

How to get there

Oporua map
From Highway 2 approaching from the north take a half left turn into No 1 Line about 1 km short of the Tauherenikau Hotel (also known as "The Tin Hut") and continue on for about 4 kms when you will cross the main Featherston-Martinborough Road and follow in direction marked Lake Ferry. From the south take a half right turn from Highway 2 in Featherston onto main Martinborough Road. Six kms further on take right hand turn into Lake Ferry road. Continue south past Kahutera School until the sign "Oporua Floodway" appears. Cross to right side of road and follow a track which leads to the top of the levee where you will come to the first of 7 gates you must pass through on your way to the Lake. Leave all gates as you find them. This is a metal-grass track with plenty of parking-turning area at the end.


For more tourist information on this region, please check the Tourism Wairarapa Web site (

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