Friends of Mangarakau Swamp is an Incorporated Society established in 2003. The society now has in excess of 200 members . Some of whom are involved with the swamp's well-being and management.
The vast wetlands extend over 400 hectares- the largest remaining freshwater wetland in the Nelson- Marlborough region.
Throughout the history of the settlement of goldminers, coalminers, flax and saw-millers, the swamp has resisted every attempt to drain it.
Empowered action saw the creation and protection of Mangarakau Swamp Reserve, a highly significant tract of wetland habitat. Members of Golden Bay Forest & Bird envisaged an extended wetland, and gained the support of NZ Native Forest Restoration Trust, who strategically bought parcels of private land bordering the extensive swamplands already held within the Department of Conservation estate.
The Reserve is protected by a QEII covenant. Both the wetland and adjoining forest are being actively restored as a safe habitat for birds and snails.These include endangered species like South Island Fernbird (Megalurus puntatus punctatus), South Island Robin (Petroica australis australis), Australasian Bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus) and the large land snail ( Powelliphanta gilliesii).
In 2015 Friends of Mangarakau Swamp started monitoring Australasian Bittern to get more information of how many individuals there are. They set up a motion-activated camera and recorders to identify the males' booming & one hour counts in the field.
But also in the bordering forest to the wetland there are rare species, like the large land snail Powelliphanta gilliesii. Because of that Friends of the Mangarakau Swamps expanded their traplines of rats and stoats from the Swamp to the wooded hills behind the old school of Mangarakau in 2009. It is called the "Snailtrack".
To experience the varied environment of the wetland and the forest there is a Visitor Lodge for over-night stays and a Visitor Centre and museum housing both historical and wildlife information.