Lifting the lid on urban streams

August 24, 2022

You're a lot closer to your neighbourhood stream than you might think. There's a massive web of streams beneath our feet, out of sight, but full of life and opportunity. Come explore them with Mountains to Sea Wellington and let's give them some love.  

Living in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, we are no stranger to the steep hills and rugged coastlines. But what we don't see anymore are the streams that once weaved their way down these hills to the sea. These streams aren't gone, they are just hidden under our pathways and streets. Over the last 100 years most of Te Whanganui-a-Tara's stream network has been piped into stormwater drains and culverts to make way for the city's infrastructure. 

Even though they are underground, they still provide homes and a highway for the 16 species of native freshwater fish that live here. Including both the long and short fin eels, along with all 5 species of endemic fish that make up what we call "whitebait", from the tiny īnanga to the giant kōkopu.

But these hidden streams need our help. They’re heavily impacted by sediment from construction sites, copper from vehicle brake pads, tyres, metal roofing, and industrial yards, sewage contamination from overflows, broken pipes, and crossed connections, and rubbish washing down roadside drains. All of these things can be toxic to freshwater species.

Mountains to Sea Wellington's scientists and catchment guides are working together with community groups, families and local schools to explore the waterways in Te Whanganui-a-Tara and take actions to help. These streams are so close to our homes so there is great potential for everyone to reconnect to them and get involved in their protection and regeneration.

And at the end of the day it’s about more than the water. It's a fun opportunity to get outside, connect with others and feel good knowing you're having a positive impact. 

It’s folks like YOU, coming together through community projects and local restoration work who are making all the difference. Mountains to Sea Wellington do a variety of community projects and education programmes across the region. Our mahi is all about forging connections between local people and the environment. If getting excited about nature and sharing that love with others sounds like a bit of you… then contact us at

Freshwater Manager
A powerhouse in freshwater conservation and a driving force within WBC. Always both a teacher and student, Liz leads the way for so much meaningful mahi within both education and community spaces.
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