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Several kilometres of well-maintained walking tracks make access easy, and areas of interest are highlighted with clearly marked signs. From the visitor centre car park the main walking route extends 2 km, along a causeway through swampland, past Lonely Island, and both across and around Ram Island (Whakaraupuka), the site of Tukiauau’s pa. Ram Island is being revegetated to native bush, with many plots labelled as to the schools groups responsible. The elevated ground of Ram Island offers views across the swamps and large ponds. Walking tracks are open to all visitors during daylight hours. Dogs and bicycles are not permitted on the walking tracks.
The walking tracks and viewpoints provide places to observe most species of wetland birds, as well as those typical of open country and regenerating bush on the islands.
The ponds and watercourses provide a great environment to explore by non-powered boat, outside the bird-breeding season. Canoes, kayaks or rowboats can be launched at the grassy picnic area on the Clarendon-Berwick road. Motorised boats are prohibited.
Row boats allow access to the main ponds and channels marked on the map. Slimmer craft may venture along some of the small water channels/creeks connecting the ponds. Experienced kayakers/canoers can access the wider Waihola-Waipori Wetlands and Lakes system from Te Nohoaka o Tukiauau. There are not many islands or solid landforms to disembark on throughout the wetlands so be prepared for wet feet or to be in your boat for a while.
Please make contact with the wetlands coordinator when planning a trip. This is to ensure it is a safe time to enter the wetlands, as at certain times there may be aerial weed control planned or hunting taking place. Access may also be restricted during bird breeding seasons and during specific Wetlands events. At all times responsibility for your safety is your own, and lifejackets must be worn.
Research to monitor wetland health is an important part of habitat restoration. We have links with the University of Otago, and encourage appropriate research activities in the wetland in areas such as water quality, and bird and plant life.
The wetlands are also a site for seasonal duck shooting of non-protected species. For more information about this contact the Wetlands Coordinator Glen Riley in the first instance (03 486 2654 or 027 424 0224 or [email protected]).