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Published: 2002-03-01 00:00:00

What happens in Coromandel estuaries will be revealed later this month on a guided tour of the Whangamata and Wharekawa estuaries and the Firth of Thames.

The free tour is part of the nine day Waikato Festival of the Environment, which runs from March 8 – 17 throughout the Waikato Region. City, District and the Regional Council, environmental groups, community organisations and local schools are organising their own events, with everything from fashion to food and adventure.

Environment Waikato is organising the tour of the Whangamata and Wharekawa estuaries and the Firth of Thames, which is on Sunday, March 10.

Estuaries are some of the Region’s most at-risk coastal areas and staff from Environment Waikato, Thames Coromandel District Council, Department of Conservation, NIWA and the Hauraki Maori Trust Board will explain their importance and values, and the issues they face.

Estuaries in the Region are coming under increasing pressure as a result of population growth, increased demand for coastal developments such as marine farms and marinas, and increased development of forestry, farming and urban development in catchments. Estuaries are crucial transition zones between land and water, providing important feeding, spawning and nursery habitats for many fish, crustaceans, shellfish and birds. Coromandel estuaries are particularly sensitive to land use changes.

People wanting to join the tour from Hamilton can get on a free bus from Hamilton’s Eastside Tavern car park at 8am, and the tour leaves Whangamata at 10am from the Whangamata wharf. Participants should bring their lunch for a day of exploration. It is essential to book by March 4 so numbers can be confirmed. The event is held in conjunction with Seaweek, and if wet, will be postponed to March 24.

You can also learn more about beaches and the dunes at an Environment Waikato Regional Beachcare Day on March 9 at Tairua. The all day event will include presentations by coastal scientists and a field trip to look at beach and dune environments, also as part of Seaweek.