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Lake Papaitonga (also known as Waiwiri) is a dune lake in Horowhenua. The scenic reserve is an important sanctuary for recovering wetlands birds.

Place overview


  • Bird and wildlife watching
  • Walking and tramping


  • Information panels
  • Picnic tables

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      About this place

      Nature and conservation

      The reserve is an important refuge for birds that depend on wetlands or lowland forests for their survival.

      Leafless mistletoe, Korthalsella salicornioides.
      Leafless mistletoe, Korthalsella salicornioides

      Lake Papaitonga is home to waterfowl and wading birds as well as forest species on the lake’s margins.

      Lake Papaitonga and its surrounds make up 135 hectares of scenic reserve. Wetland and lush coastal forest surround the lake.

      Within the reserve is the only intact sequence from wetland to mature dry terrace forest in Wellington and Horowhenua.

      The wetland forest associations of kahikatea/pukatea, tawa and pukatea-tawa-swamp maire are now rare.

      The manuka growing on the forested side is habitat for the rare leafless mistletoe Korthalsella salicornioides.

      Lake Papaitonga. Phto: Sue Galbraith.

      Getting there

      The entrance to the reserve is at the end of Buller Road, 5 km southwest of Levin off State Highway 1.

      Know before you go

      The Papaitonga Scenic Reserve contains rare plants and wildlife, and fragile habitats.

      Dogs, fires and other activities that may cause damage, such as hunting, mountain biking and trail bike riding, are not permitted.

      Visitors should stay on formed tracks and defined lookout areas at all times. Access to the islands on the lake is not permitted.

      Remove your rubbish. Recycle paper, glass, cans and plastic.

      Pest control operation

      DOC is carrying out possum and rat control in Lake Papaitonga Scenic Reserve. Find out more information about the operation.


      Te Papaioea / Palmerston North Office
      Phone:      +64 6 350 9700
      Full office details
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