Kaitorete Spit is a long finger of land which extends along the coast of Canterbury in the South Island of New Zealand. It runs west from Banks Peninsula for 25 kilometres, and separates the shallow Lake Ellesmere (Waihora) from the Pacific Ocean. It is actually a barrier as it reaches landfall on either side (at Banks Peninsula/Birdlings Flat and Taumutu), though at its western end it tapers to a point less than 100 metres in width which is occasionally breached at high tide. The spit is noted for its isolation and for its pebbly beaches.
The barrier is low-lying but is not prone to flooding. A gravel road extends along half of its length from the small settlement of Birdling's Flat at its easternmost point. At this point, the northern shore of the spit is washed by a tidal lagoon, Kaituna Lagoon, which is essentially a short broad arm of Lake Ellesmere. It is also at its point that the spit is at its widest - some 3.5 kilometres. SH 75 skirts the hills of Banks Peninsula close to the spit's eastern end.
The barrier is of considerable ecological significance and is home to the majority of the surviving specimens of Shrubby tororaro (Muehlenbeckia astonii) - a nationally endangered endemic plant. The Kaitorete Spit dune habitat also contains distinctive moth fauna with naturally rare species. Several species of moth are endemic to Kaitorete Spit including Kiwaia jeana, Scythris niphozela and Kupea electilis.
The company Rocket Lab announced in July 2015 it is seeking consent to build a commercial space launch centre on the spit. The base is expected to be used to launch satellites into low Earth orbit.
- Reed New Zealand atlas (2004) Auckland: Reed Publishing. Map 85. ISBN 0 7900 0952 8
- Patrick, B (1994). "Lepidoptera of Kaitorete Spit, Canterbury". New Zealand Entomologist. 17 (1): 52–63. doi:10.1080/00779962.1994.9721985. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
- Thomas, Lauren (1 July 2015). "Space Base in New Zealand Picked to Start Private Trips to Orbit". Bloomberg. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
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