Charlesworth Reserve

Charlesworth Reserve is the site of a successful tidal wetland restoration project at the head of Avon-Heathcote Ihutai Estuary.



Charlesworth Street is located near the estuary within Linwood Ave, Humphreys Drive and Charlesworth Street.

The main car park is on Charlesworth Street but there are access points from Humphries Drive, Waterman Place and via neighbouring Ti Rakau Reserve. Metroinfo(external link) has up-to-date bus information.


The short walking track is a well-formed gravel path. During winter, the track can be wet and slippery so take care.

The track follows the edge of the tidal pools and regenerating vegetation. 

Dogs must be leashed when walking through the reserve.

Dogs and wildlife

The reserve provides habitat for local and migratory birds including white-faced heron, spur-winged plover, pied stilt and banded dotterel.

Birds roost on the islands during high tide and wade through the channels at low tide to feed.

For the protection of birds in this reserve dogs are:

  • Prohibited from near ponds, wetland areas and tidal pools.
  • Must be leashed in the rest of the reserve - including on the walking tracks.

This salt marsh is an excellent bird habitat. The salt marsh plants are home to a large number of insects and the muddy ground hosts crabs, shrimp and small fish ideal for birds to feed on. If birds are disturbed by dogs during feeding they take flight and lose critical fat necessary for their survival.

During summer, many birds nest on the ground. If approached by dogs or people, birds will take flight and abandon eggs and chicks. Eggs quickly cook under the sun or freeze without the parent sitting on them. Abandoned chicks are quickly picked off by predators.

Check our map of leashed and prohibited dog control areas for further information.

Endangered Black Billed Gulls roosting at Charlesworth Reserve.


This 20-hectare section of salt marsh was drained in the 1920s and infilled for grazing.

Restoration began in 1991 when paddocks were cleared and planted, and tidal pools were re-created. Thanks to the hard work of Estuary Trust volunteers and Christchurch City Council Rangers, the wetland habitat was restored in 2002.

The reserve is a salt marsh. A salt marsh is a coastal wetland that is regularly flooded and drained by saltwater tides. Three large pipes running under Humphreys Drive allow tidal flow in and out of the reserve.

Bed uplift from the 2011 earthquakes reduced tidal flushing but enough tidal water still enters to maintain the salt-tolerant plants and wider ecosystem.

As well as salt marsh, the reserve hosts coastal shrubland, bush and salt meadow. Its role is to provide nesting, roosting and feeding habitat for native and migratory birds, as well as provide habitat for fish, estuarine marine life, lizards and terrestrial invertebrates.

The space is also a valuable recreational area for the local community. Seats at viewing points overlook the pools which are a hotspot for wetland and wading birds, including the migratory bar-tailed godwit/kuaka.


Over 100,000 trees, shrubs and marsh plants have now been planted at this site and volunteers play a major role in caring for these.  

Charlesworth Reserve is being actively restored by the Avon-Heathcote Ihutai Estuary Trust, with support from Trees for Canterbury(external link), who donate and assist in the planting of native vegetation. 

Make a difference and get involved in the regular working bees and community planting days held at Charlesworth Reserve.


Takiuru ki ā mātou ratonga
Log in to our services