Waihora Ellesmere Trust (WET) is a community organisation dedicated to the improvement of the health and biodiversity of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere and its catchment.

Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere: State of the Lake 2013

A new report, released in early November 2013, brings together information about the state of the land, water, wildlife, recreation, cultural health and more – follow this link for more information

Sustainable Drains – a current focus for the trust

The land surrounding Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere has many natural springs and streams, modified waterways and constructed drainage channels. These combine to form a complex interconnected network and ultimately flow into Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere. How this drainage network is managed has a huge impact on the water quality and habitat of the lake and tributaries.

Visit our ‘sustainable drain management’ project page or download a copy of our booklet “A guide to managing your drains’.

We have also produced three short videos with information to assist anyone undertaking a riparian restoration project.

Our Action Plan

WET’s activities are guided by our Action Plan which is available here. This plan builds on the Community Strategy (available to download here), which was adopted by the Trust in 2003. A copy of our Trust Deed can also be downloaded here.

Te Waihora Lake Ellesmere

Te Waihora Lake Ellesmere, one of New Zealand’s most important wetland systems, is a brackish, shallow lagoon with an average depth of 1.4m. Covering around 20,000 hectares, Te Waihora Lake Ellesmere, which lies just to the south of Banks Peninsula, is New Zealand’s fifth largest lake and is internationally significant for its wildlife abundance and diversity.

The total number of bird species recorded at the lake is 167, with at least 37 species breeding. 43 species of fish have been recorded in the lake.

A Vision for Te Waihora Lake Ellesmere

  • A place where healthy and productive water provides for the many users of the lake while supporting the diversity of plants and wildlife that make this place unique.
  • A place of cultural and historical significance that connects us with our past and our future.
  • A place where environmental, customary, commercial, and recreational values are balanced while respecting the health of the resource.
  • A special wide open place for the enjoyment and wonderment of present and future generations.
  • A place of contemplation and tranquillity as well as activity, a place just to be.


Acknowledging the past and looking to the future, we:

  • Educate - enhancing understanding, awareness and the value of the Lake through education programmes, newsletters, and field days.
  • Facilitate -promoting better management practices through public seminars and by partnering with private landowners, community groups and government agencies.
  • Activate -¬† providing opportunities and encouragement for people to get actively involved in projects to rehabilitate the ecosystem through riparian and wetland enhancement.