Parakai wetland reserve

James Currey


Parakai is widely recognised for the strong presence of geothermal activity within the area, which supports the highly regarded Parakai pools complex. Situated 40 minutes from Auckland’s CBD, Parakai serves as a popular holiday destination for many of Auckland’s residents and draws many people to the area.

The surrounding landscape is for the most part untouched and ecologically rich, due to the fact that only small farming communities have been occupying the landscape; with minimal impact over the past few decades.

Parakai’s current population is set to increase dramatically with many subdivisions already planned and in place for the future. Alongside with Auckland’s current housing crisis its very likely that Parakai is set for a vast change. The natural setting which has been so prominent over the years will be subjected to a range of environmental threats as more people occupy the landscape.

The two main drivers of the design were focused on ecologically enhancing the area through a non invasive design; which would support the wildlife throughout the site. The second was to ultimately expand on the tourism productivity that the pools currently provide. 

The design for site was to transform the area into a wetland reserve; expanding and integrating on the pool complex’s success and the existing wetlands formed by the Kaipara tidal river from the north. Water will be drained from the pools complex into a wakeboard cable pool. This will provide another tourism feature which is heavily supported by the pools and the existing geothermal activity. From there the water will drain down a canal with interactive stepping stones and through to the wetland. Board walks will allow for access throughout the site whilst avoiding the natural bogging throughout the wet seasons. 

The site will allow for an increase in tourism growth for the Parakai community. Due to the sites location within Parakai it will help to serve as an ecological hub with housing developments built up around the reserve. The site will support large areas of wetland planting and provide access throughout the site and helping to raise interest and awareness regarding current ecological issues.