Wetlands are one of New Zealand’s most incredible habitats, yet they are also one of the most forgotten.

Over 90 per cent of them have been lost since humans reached these shores, and many people are oblivious to their importance or the life they support.

The Habitat

Te Wao Nui’s The Wetlands recreates one of these special habitats. A towering waterfall cascades down the rock face, flowing into a pool that is home to many of our unique wading birds. Plant species, instantly recognisable to many will also feature here; from flax to manuka to kahikatea and the cabbage tree (tï köuka).

This habitat focuses on unveiling a world that many visitors will not recognise. Within this world, the mysterious underwater life of longfin eels will be brought into view. Often misunderstood, but with an important role in the environment, the eel is the perfect icon for New Zealand’s wetlands.

The Wetlands

The 8m rock wall with large boulders, a waterfall and pool replicates a scene from the far North Island wetlands. This rock face is made from Gunite Dricon (dry concrete). Each plant has its own planting pocket and drainage hole. To be able to weed this area, staff will have to abseil the rock face! The waterfall pours out 42l of water per second.  The structural support for this wall, which supports several tonnes of themed gunite, is a braced timber pole structure.

The pool contains swamp kauri, sourced from Waitakere City Council. It has been piled either side of the waterfall to contain some of the splash and the overflow stream.


How do you X-ray a longfin eel?

How do you X-ray an eel? You’re about to find out! When our ectotherm keepers noticed that one of the eleven New Zealand longfin eels in our care had a slight bend in its back, they contacted our zoo veterinary team so they could investigate this further.


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Te Wao Nui

Te Wao Nui explores the past, showcases the present, and focuses on the future – inviting us all to play a role as kaitiaki (guardians) for our unique wildlife and wild places.