Skip to content

Stanpit Marsh

An unusual combination of habitats that are home to over 300 plant species. 

A Site of Special Scientific Interest since 1986, Stanpit Marsh is on the north side of Christchurch Harbour, just below the confluence of the rivers Avon and Stour.  

The 65ha site has habitats including salt marsh with creeks and salt pans, reed beds, mud flats, freshwater marsh, gravel estuarine banks and sandy scrub. 

Plants and wildlife 

Over 300 species of plants have been recorded at Stanpit Marsh, 14 of which are nationally rare and endangered.  

This diversity of plant life supports a strong wildlife community, including a great number of butterflies and dragonflies. There are also 313 recorded bird species, some of which breed on Stanpit but most arriving with the spring or autumn migration. 

The Christchurch Harbour Ornithological Group has information about the birds present on Stanpit Marsh and the best places from which to view them. 

The Friends of Stanpit Marsh (FOSM) 

The aim of the FOSM is to help preserve the marsh for wildlife and people. The funds they raise go mainly towards the upkeep and improvement of the purpose-built Stanpit Marsh Information Centre. The friends have a membership of over 400 and welcome new members.  

Educational visits  

We run educational sessions at Stanpit Marsh for local schools to discover the wonderful wildlife and explore its unique habitats.  

The sessions, which are aimed at KS1 and KS2 children, are led by the our countryside team and cover a variety of topics and activities linked to the national curriculum. Schools can also enquire about other topics or activities to link to their own projects. 

Sessions are currently being offered free of charge, funded by the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. Email if you have any questions or would like to book a visit.  

Getting there 

Nearest town


Grid reference

SZ 166 922 

Nearest train station


Nearest bus stop

Morebus X1 and X2 and Yellow Buses P1 and P3 stop at Purewell Cross.                                          

The 123 bus stops adjacent to the site. 


The main cycle route through Christchurch passes close by. 


There’s a car park adjacent to the site. 


The ground at Stanpit is generally flat but being a marsh, the site is subject to the tides and can get very wet. Some parts of the circular gravel path can also be rough and slippery due to tidal action. Ditches are often crossed by raised sleeper bridges and there is some seating upon which to rest. 


Dogs are allowed but must be under close control.  


Salt marsh, reed beds, freshwater marsh, gravel estuarine banks and sandy scrub. 

Site designations

Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Local Nature Reserve.

Look out for  

Over 300 bird species and the flora of fresh and brackish water habitats.