A number of wetlands exist along the edges of the Waikato River and lakes, and on small islands within the Waikato River.
Three of the six New Zealand wetlands which are recognised as being internationally important for their ecological life are found in the Waikato region.
The Waikato wetlands are home to native and exotic birds, flora and fauna and fresh-water marine life. Rare birds, including the Australasian Bittern, North Island Fern bird and Spotless Crake frequent many of the Waikato wetlands.
Endangered plants, as well as indigenous fish exist alongside many common species (such as the Mallard Duck or Whitebait) which provide recreational hunting and fishing along the Waikato River.