Biodiversity

Coasts

Mahurangi Harbour
Mahurangi Harbour

The coasts of New Zealand were once clothed in native vegetation.

The plant communities would have ranged from highly salt-tolerant species, typical of estuaries, dunes and rocky cliffs, to hardy ferns, shrubs and trees, typical of coastal broadleaf forest.

Coastal forests, clifftops, banks and dunes are some of New Zealand’s most threatened ecosystems.

Coastal forests have been reduced by over 90 per cent from their original extent, and less than 10 per cent of New Zealand’s sand dunes remain unmodified.

Good vegetation cover on land bordering the sea can help coastal ecosystems by:

  • providing habitats for native birds and animals
  • preventing erosion of soil and sand by wind and water
  • shading out invasive weeds
  • preserving the natural character of our coastal environment.

Coastal planting requires an ongoing commitment to weed management until the plants have successfully establish. You will need to remove weeds from around plants for 2-3 years, or until the native plants are high enough to over-top the weeds and crowd them out.

For planting advice, see our series of coastal planting guides:

Overview (PDF 376KB)
Coastal forests (PDF 290KB)
Dunes (PDF 376KB)
Cliff tops (PDF 418KB)
Wetlands, salt marshes and estuaries (PDF 490KB)
Clay banks (PDF 576KB)

Your feedback helps us to improve our website. If you have feedback about our services (not the website), please contact us.