This is an area of low lying dune lakes and waterways. In pre-European settler times the area was densely covered by wetland forest and swamp and dominated by kahikatea (white pine) and totara (red pine).
In the mid 19th century it was possible to guide a punt from Paekakariki 20 km to the South, to Foxton, 40 km to the north through these inland waterways. These lagoons and waterways were formed by the longshore drift depositing sands on the West Coast of the North Island and then being blown up into high dunes by the prevailing westerly, thus cutting off any exit for streams to the sea. Over the years many dune lakes have been formed. Around the turn of the 20th century the land was drained for dairy farming and the forest was clear-felled. Kahikatea, tall, straight and majestic trees which took on average 500 years to mature, were used as butter and cheese boxes for export because they did not taint the produce! A once-off use of a priceless treasure that would never be accepted today.
From dairy land to wetland was the vision of Pateke Lagoon's new owner Brendan Coe who dammed up the reclaimed land in 1987 and began the long process of returning the area into ponds,waterways and islands that would attract waterfowl back to the area. Peter and Adrienne Dale have carried this work on and have fenced off the wetlands to enable regeneration of wetland vegetation. Along the way they have also planted many thousands of native trees to give nature a helping hand to get re-started. Adrienne has grown all of the seedlings from seeds collected locally from the few survivors, so their ancestors will be happy, even if Adrienne and Peter do not live to see them become old.