Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park is New Zealand’s largest inland restoration project, showcasing our rich natural world and educating people about the importance of protecting our whenua for generations to come.

The park opened to visitors in 2019 after 15 years were spent reconstructing the original forest, wetland and lake ecosystems. The community has volunteered many thousands of hours to bring the vision for Waiwhakareke to life.

The park is owned and managed by Hamilton City Council, with support from The University of Waikato, Wintec, Waikato Regional Council, and Tui 2000.

Find information on visiting Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park.

Science and research

Waiwhakareke is a science-based project, supported by seven years of government-funded research led by The University of Waikato, and results from extensive monitoring within the park.

Waiwhakareke also provides the opportunity for new, original research, with topics to date including:

  • the effects of converting farmland to native forest, and wider effects on a lake catchment
  • successful revegetation and monitoring methods
  • reconstruction of functioning ecosystems, particularly semi-swamp forest, in urban areas
  • peat bog recreations
  • population analysis of plants, and the use of seeds in ecological restoration and rehabilitation projects.


Get involved

Groups and individuals can volunteer their time and energy to support this project.


A day in the fresh air helping to restore our green spaces is a great team-building activity. Register your interest by filling in the form.

Friends of Waiwhakareke

If you're interested in joining this group, whose work includes potting plants, removing weeds, mending fences, removing trees and laying paths, email friendsofwaiwhakareke@gmail.com.

Arbor Day

Celebrated every autumn, Arbor Day at Waiwhakareke is the city’s largest community planting day. Hundreds of people, from individuals to school and corporate groups, grab their gumboots and join us to help grow Waiwhakareke. Fill out the form below to join in.

A brief history

Waiwhakareke was once a popular transport corridor for Maaori, and the forests and wetlands provided food and resources. Waiwhakareke translates as (wai) water (whakareke) to plunge a pole.

Ngaati Koura, Ngaati Ruru and Ngaati Ngamurikaitaua all have links to the area, some dating back more than 800 years.

European settlers began arriving from the 1820s, and drainage of the wetland for pastoral farming increased, particularly after the 1860s when Maaori land was confiscated.
Council bought the land in 1975.

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Last updated 19 July 2022