Breathe fresh Tasman Sea air while you explore the moody surf beaches and tranquil dune lake wetlands near Levin

The wide sandy beaches on the coast near Levin will leave you wondering if the world's population has completely disappeared. Feel the sand between your toes, hear the roar of the surf and breathe the fresh, salty Tasman Sea air. The beachscape continues further than the eye can see, interrupted only by rivers running to the ocean.

A few kilometres inland, on the Horowhenua coastal plain, lies Papaitonga Scenic Reserve and its a tranquil dune lake. Wetland and lush coastal forest surround one half of the lake, while the other side merges into rustic farmland.

Papaitonga dune lake is home to waterfowl and wading birds, as well as forest species on the lake?s margins. This area is a rare example of an uninterrupted transition from coastal wetland to mature, dry terrace forest.

In the middle of the lake are two large islands. One was constructed by Muaupoko residents in 1820 to extend their village. Muaupoko people settled in the area during the early part of the 19th century, but were driven away in 1822 by Ngati Toa people, led by the famous Maori chief Te Rauparaha.

In 1897, Sir Walter Buller purchased an area including Papaitonga with the vision of protecting the land around the lake for future generations.

Tracks through the reserve provide easy access to this historically and ecologically-important area.

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