Walking Tracks: Four flat, easy walking tracks that vary in length from 20 – 40 minutes return.
Facilities: Picnic table, electric barbeque, plant nursery and visitor’s centre.
The locals: Bar-tailed godwits, royal spoonbills, paradise shelduck, white-faced heron, pied stilt, NZ shoveler, pukeko, black shag.
Getting there: The reserve is accessed from 5 Paekakariki Hill Road, Pauatahanui Village (if coming from Wellington take SH1 north, turn off on to SH58, then left into Paekakariki Hill Rd; coming from the Hutt Valley turn off SH2 at Haywards Hill on to SH 58, and turn right into Paekakariki Hill Rd).
Thought to refer to the shapes of the inlet, Pauatahanui means ‘big side of the paua shell’ and contains one of the most important salt marshes in the North Island.
The reserve has a range of vegetation from tidal mudflats to regenerating scrubland, and is inhabited by many local and migratory birds (caspian tern, pukeko, pied stilt, kingfisher, black shag, bar-tailed godwit) and a variety of mud-dwelling species, such as the walnut-sized native mud snail.
Forest & Bird has restored the area, which was formerly farmland and a go-kart track, to much of its natural wetland state. Restoration has included creating a series of shallow ponds, tracks, boardwalks and hides for observing birdlife, planting native species, and establishing a plant nursery and visitor centre. Visitors are welcome to walk through the many tracks that weave throughout this wildlife reserve.