Arethusa Reserve

Location and Access

Situated at Lamb Road, Pukenui, at the middle of the Aupouri Peninsula, Northland. A wide track round the wetland perimeter enables visitors to traverse the changing patterns of wetland vegetation in the dune lake system, the vista broken here and there by the bordering manuka and kanuka trees.


Mrs Dagny Oxford bequeathed Arethusa to the Society in 1985. The original Oxford house was sold in 1999 when part of the property containing the house was subdivided off.


Arethusa is situated on Pleistocene consolidated parabolic dunes, the dry and sandy perimeter of which forms the sides of a shallow basin that collects rain to form wetland areas and a shallow lake. Ponds excavated by Mrs Oxford are slowly filling in. The wetland harbours the sedges Isolepis prolifer, Eleocharis sphacelata and Baumea articulata, and has areas of raupo, flax, papyrus and bracken. In areas of open water there are water lilies and, at times floating on the surface like a red carpet, the fern Azolla filiculoides. Along its south-western margins water fern Histiopteris incisa and tangle fern Gleichenia microphylla are found in great profusion.

The land surrounding the wetland has a wide range of exotic plants and plant pests, some planted by the branch, some by the previous owner. The main canopy vegetation is wattle species and kanuka, with Pinus radiata along one boundary. There are very few naturally occurring native species on the property, most having been planted by the Far North Branch.

Over the years since Forest & Bird acquired the land, many pohutukawa, kauri, kahikatea and other native trees have been planted. The once dominant tree species, Sydney golden wattle Acacia longifolia is giving way to naturally occurring kanuka, manuka, karo and various other native species. Along the western slopes the parasitic native climber Cassytha paniculata climbs over bracken, native shrubs and the sedges Carex albostriatus and Lepidosperma laterale.


The wetland is home to mallard, grey duck, black swan, pied cormorant, pukeko, paradise shelduck and the regionally significant spotless crake. Below the surface there are native eels and the introduced mosquito fish. Sacred kingfisher nest around the wetland margins and flitting amongst the many exotic and native trees are North Island fantail, grey warbler and silvereye.

Reserve Data

Legal description: Section 27 situated in Block X Hourora East Survey District, CT 142/42 (North Auckland Land Registration District).
Size: 14.4472 hectares.
Grid reference: NZMS 260 series N03 206 084.
Distance from coastline: 2km from the east coast Houhora Harbour), 6km from the west coast (Ninety Mile Beach).
Height above sea level: 30m.
Ecological district: Aupouri Ecological District.
Protective Status: Not formally protected. Land associated with Arethusa Lodge.
Naming: Arethusa is named after the Greek legendary nymph of the same name.