Adjacent to the Lower Waiau River, the Rakatu Wetlands are accessed from the Southern Scenic Route (Clifden-Blackmount Road). The wetlands have been developed by the Waiau Trust which focuses on habitat restoration projects. This project is a significant restoration of wetlands in Southland.
A 278 hectare property was purchased by the Trust in 2000 on the Waiau River. This included 65 hectares of existing wetlands which have been extended by another 50 hectares. The balance of the property is farmed and held in commercial pine trees to provide income to support wetland development.
The Wetlands are about 17 km south of Manapouri off the Southern Scenic Route. The access road is clearly signposted and there are 9 km of walking tracks around and above the wetlands. Fiordland National Park lies on the western side of the wetlands and Waiau River.