New reef planned for Te Ara Tupua - Ngā Ūranga to Pito-One


The ecology of Wellington Harbour is about to get a significant helping hand with a new reef to be built as part of the Te Ara Tupua shared pathway project.

Approval has been given to build an enhanced reef habitat that will help restore and protect marine ecosystems in the harbour.

54 engineered pyramids will be submerged seven to ten metres below sea level off the west coast of Te-Whanganui-a-Tara at the northern end of the Ngā Ūranga ki Pito-One project area. Work on the reef is expected to begin around May this year.

Artist impression of the new reef support marine life:

ocean floor view with fish and pyramid

ocean floor view with fish in a crypt space

Jetesh Bhula, Regional Manager Infrastructure Delivery, says the approach is a nature-based solution for restoring and protecting marine ecosystems, providing coastal protection, promoting tourism and increasing environmental awareness.

“This will be the first project of its kind on this scale in New Zealand.”

“The pyramids will be placed in clusters of three, spaced no more than fifty metres apart, and will create a habitat for marine life. Experts have designed them to generate water flows that encourage the growth of plant life, algae, shellfish, snails and kina,” Mr Bhula says.

The reef is an essential part of the Te Ara Tupua project, which Mr Bhula says is more than just building an infrastructure link.

“Restoring and protecting the environment has always been a key component of the project and its Ecology Management Plan. The future health and wellbeing of the harbour is just as important as the shared pathway being built.”

Working with iwi mana whenua, Taranaki Whānui ki te Upoko o te Ika and Ngāti Toa, the reef’s progress will be monitored to ensure it provides a thriving habitat with more fish and well-developed shellfish and plant populations. These ecological gains will support the health and mouri of Te Whanganui-a-Tara for all to enjoy for many generations to come.

More information

More details about the reef can be found in the fact sheet. Images used in the release and the factsheet are available at the links below.

There is also an online video that explains how the reef will work and the environmental benefits it will bring.

Further information about Te Ara Tupua and the Ngā Ūranga ki Pito-One section of the project can be found on the NZTA – Waka Kotahi website.