Project Title: 2018 Wainuiomata River Restoration at Baring Head



Metres Planted:
150 m

Volunteer Hours:

Location: Baring Head

GPS Coordinates: -41.406975, 174.883670

Project Cost: NZD $4805

Cost per Metre: NZD $32

Metres to be planted: 150m

Field Partner: Greater Wellington Regional Council

Project ID: NI22

Project Description:


Hi, we’re the Friends of the Baring Head Charitable Trust. 

Baring Head is a spectacular 284 hectare headland and river valley on the coast south of Wainuiomata, between Palliser Bay and Wellington Harbour. It’s a scenic reserve, managed by the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) as part of the East Harbour Regional Park.

Baring Head is a recent addition to the park. In 2010, the Nature Heritage Fund, Department of Conservation, GWRC, Hutt City Council and a private benefactor jointly funded the purchase of the land. This followed a groundswell of diverse community support from individuals and groups like the Wellington Conservation Board, Forest and Bird, the Wellington Botanical Society and others.

Friends of the Baring Head formed after the purchase. We support GWRC in its stewardship of the area and the protection, maintenance and restoration of Baring Head. We’re helping to implement a Biodiversity Action Plan. We organise and run public events such as beach clean-ups, predator trapping, tree planting and weeding working bees. We also are restoring a lighthouse complex in the park, which includes two houses, a generator building and garage.


The park includes the lower reaches of the Wainuiomata River, a listed Water of National Importance. The lower river and its wetlands cover some 60 hectares! The river meanders through the lower valley and ends in a lagoon.

The area has been changed by historic farming practices, but it still has many of its former flora and fauna. Several threatened plant and invertebrate species live on the river banks near its mouth.

The river contains many species of native fish that have a “Declining” conservation status including the long finned eel, inanga (whitebait), lamprey, giant and red fin bully and giant kokopu. Birds include the nationally threatened grey duck, the uncommon black shag, and the black swan and paradise shelduck. There is also a freshwater mussel population.


The river is unique in the region because it is fully connected to its flood plain and tributaries. There are no dams or catchment works which disrupt its flow.

That said, historic deforestation and grazing have resulted in bank erosion, loss of shading, and loss of river edge habitat. Fish spawning sites and mussel habitat have been negatively affected by sediment.

The river is also impacted by upstream changes, which have altered overall hydrology (e.g. frequency and size of floods) and water quality. There are also a number of aquatic weeds present.


We are raising funds to plant 150 metres of the Wainuiomata River with over 1,000 native plants and trees this winter. The native plants will include cabbage trees, harakeke and ngaio and toetoe.

The plants will reduce bank slumping and begin to create shade and improve fish habitat. Planting will speed recovery of the area, increase plant diversity and repair inanga (whitebait) spawning sites.

We’re fundraising for plants as well as funds to support Friends of Baring Head in coordinating volunteers and the development of a larger 3 year planting plan for the site. The fundraising goal also includes Million Metres 15% admin fee to maintain the website and help with the fundraiser.


We have already fenced off the river edges and wetlands, and done a small amount of planting.  The growing conditions in this area are tough with wind funneling up the valley, wet winters and drought conditions in summer. We have a good idea of what will grow in the difficult conditions, but we will review this each year so that we can incorporate new learnings. 

Our 2018 planting project is the start of a major programme that will eventually have the whole riverbank planted in natives!

We’re developing a 3 year plan now for 2019-2021. We’re getting 1,100 plants in the ground this year, but hope to get 5,000 in the ground in 2019 and 7,000 in 2020!

Over the next 10 years we’d like to restore all the lower reaches of the Wainuiomata River. This is a huge area and is one seventh of the main stem of the river!

Restoring this area will be an incredible example of the biodiversity and water quality outcomes that can be achieved in the rest of the valley.


The restoration of the Wainuiomata River at Baring Head is an amazing opportunity. The area has exceptional ecological values and supports many threatened species.
We hope you will donate to the project today. You can donate any amount!

Please get in touch with Friends of Baring Head Trust if you are interested in participating in a planting or restoration day. We’d like to provide an opportunity for people around the region to see the benefit of river restoration work and get to know their river.

Progress Photos: