The Wairau Lagoons cover an area of 2400 hectares of wetland and salt marshes, on the Pacific coast just to the east of Blenheim.The lagoons have formed over thousands of years behind an eight kilometre-long boulder bank created from gravel and stones washed up the coast by sea currents. Water from the surrounding hills gathers behind the boulder bank and combines with the tide coming in and out, to create perfect living conditions for plants and animals between the high and low water marks. The resulting birdlife in the area is prolific, with around 90 species being recorded, making it a fantastic place to see a large variety of endemic, native and introduced birds.
From archaeological sites on the boulder bank, the area is recognised as the earliest-known site of human occupation in New Zealand. Because of the abundance of bird and fish life, early Māori were drawn there to hunt for food – many of the lagoon’s channels were physically made or extended to help trap moulting birds or eels. The White Bluffs at the southern end of the lagoons dominate the view to the south, and was known historically as the dividing line between Ngāi Tahu and tribes to the north.