Ō Tū Wharekai is one of the best examples of an inter-montane wetland system remaining in New Zealand, and is nationally important for wildlife. It is one of the three sites that make up the national Arawai Kakariki wetland restoration programme.
The area contains a mosaic of diverse wetland habitats including the braided upper Rangitata River and the 12 lakes that make up the Ashburton Lakes.
Nestled amongst high country tussocklands and set against the towering Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moana, Hakatere Conservation Park, centred on Ō Tū Wharekai, was opened in October 2007.
An important area for Māori and home to a diverse range of animals, plants and habitats, find out more about what makes Ō Tū Wharekai so special.
Find out how DOC is working to stop the decline of Ō Tū Wharekai wetlands.
Find out how we brought Ō Tū Wharekai wetlands into schools across the country through our LEARNZ project.
Find out about community involvement at Ō Tū Wharekai.
View a map showing the area covered by the Ō Tū Wharekai (Ashburton lakes / Upper Rangitata River) wetland project.
View a selection of images from around the Ō Tū Wharekai region including entries to a photo competition held in 2010.
Publications about wetlands
40 wetlands you can visit brochure
Ramsar convention on wetlands
National Wetland Trust website
Fish & Game New Zealand website
Find out about World Wetlands Day in New Zealand.
Phone 0800 DOC HOTline (0800 362 468) 24 hour emergency number to report:
Sick or injured wildlifeWhale or dolphin strandings