Pekapeka Wetlands

This story was originally published in July 2020 and last updated in August 2020.

Pekapeka Boardwalk Sunrise

Pekapeka Wetlands is a wetland reserve located 12 kilometres by road south of Hastings in the Hawke's Bay, New Zealand.

Pekapeka is the remains of an extensive wetland system that was progressively drained, used as a dumping ground and filled in to ‘put to better use’. Several years ago, the Hawke's Bay Regional Council developed the wetlands into an attraction for both locals and visitors to Hawke's Bay, a major project. The reserve has been wonderfully restored with a number of walking trails while still showing some of the rubble as a reminder. It is one of the few remaining large wetlands of its type in Hawke’s Bay and has a high biodiversity value with many protected bird species and over 80 native and introduced plant species.

Although this 4.5km long and 800m wide wetland covers 98 hectares, public access is to a small central area of the wetland where you can explore pathways and boardwalks, and walk up to the lookout for a panoramic view of the valley. It is a must visit for keen bird and landscape photographers, and as a local, I visit the wetlands several times a year.

Flowing away

Flowing away

Flowing duckweed at the Pekapeka swamp while the sun is setting.

For photographers, the wetlands are an interesting place to visit throughout the year. The boardwalks facilitate compositions with leading lines, paving an easy path for the eye to follow through the reeds towards the hills in the background.  Both the start and the end of the day are good times for a visit and often produce colourful skies and reflections in the dark water.  The seasons provide interesting differences in hues, where the reeds are green in summer and light brown/yellow in winter times.

Black Swans at Pekapeka

Black Swans at Pekapeka

Black swans feeding on the weeds, seemingly unaware of the colourful sunset happening behind them.

Pekapeka Boardwalk

Pekapeka Boardwalk

A 'traditional' shot of the Pekapeka Wetlands featuring the boardwalk that leads through the swamp. The winter season has quite an impact on the colours on display at this park; the reeds that are green in summer turn yellow in winter, while the lower temperatures and higher rainfall enable the colour of the surrounding hills to revert to a vibrant green again.

Golden Tree Reflection

Golden Tree Reflection

I took this photo of a couple of trees catching the first light of the day from the Pekapeka Wetlands boardwalk. It was a clear, cold winter’s morning and the frost in the hollow around the trees combined with the warm glow of the early sunlight adds a little extra to the mood.

I like the natural symmetry of the scene, and I definitely broke the rule of thirds in this composition.

Pekapeka Boardwalk Sunrise

Pekapeka Boardwalk Sunrise

This photo was taken in the early morning as the sun was just below the horizon. It was one of the first photos I took with the Canon EOS R5 and the RF24-105mm F4 IS USM lens.

The magenta sky was creating beautiful reflections in the water and the light brown reeds took on the sky colour. I decided on a long exposure to create a smooth surface with a sheen of light on the water.


Jos taking photos at Pekapeka Wetlands

I hope you enjoyed this photographic illustration of the Pekapeka Wetlands, and perhaps it even inspired you to visit it yourself and take some awesome photos.  :-)


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