Click on the image to explore a story map that illustrates the complexity of the catchment: its history, environment, communities and planned port development. Learn about the challenges we face in restoring its ecological and cultural health.
Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour has cultural, spiritual, historical and traditional importance for Ngāi Tahu, particularly for the Papatipu Rūnanga Te Hapū o Ngāti Wheke, who have mana whenua and mana moana (customary authority) over the harbour basin. The takiwā (territory) of Te Hapū o Ngāti Wheke centres on Rāpaki on the northern shore of the harbour to the west of Lyttelton.
The harbour environment
The catchment has a number of areas of high ecological value. The tidal mudflats and salt marshes of the upper harbour support estuarine and other wetland bird species and are likely to be breeding grounds for several fish species. Ripapa Island is home to a nationally endangered brachiopod (Pumilas antiquatus) and is listed in the Regional Coastal Environmental Plan, along with the coastal marine area of Godley Head and the Whakaraupō/ Lyttelton Harbour tidal flats, as an area of significant natural value.
The harbour communities
Today, residents of the communities located within the Lyttelton Harbour/Whakaraupō basin engage with and value the harbour for many different reasons.
The area is popular for recreation and the resident population of more than 6,000 people, and visitors from Christchurch City and wider Canterbury, enjoy boating, fishing, swimming, walking and many other leisure activities in the catchment.
The critical issues
Over time, the increasing human population and related changes in land use have had a significant impact on the ecological health of the harbour, particularly in terms of water quality.
Ongoing erosion and sedimentation is of particular concern, along with the discharge to harbour water of contaminants in treated effluent and stormwater.
In addition, Lyttelton Port is expanding to meet the future demands of shipping and trade. Development activities have the potential to impact adversely on the wider harbour environment if not carefully managed.
To learn more about the catchment and the challenges faced in restoring its ecological and cultural health, visit the Whakaraupō storymap