About the Refuge


Established in 1972, Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is the oldest of Kaua‘i’s three national wildlife refuges. The 917-acre Refuge is located in the beautiful Hanalei River Valley on Kaua‘i’s north shore. Encircled by waterfall-draped mountains, the picturesque Hanalei Valley on the north shore of Kaua‘i harbors the Hanalei NWR.

The Refuge was established under the Endangered Species Act to conserve five endangered water birds that rely on the Hanalei Valley for nesting and feeding habitat: the koloa maoli (Hawaiian duck), the ‘alae ke‘oke‘o (Hawaiian coot), the ‘alae‘ula (Hawaiian moorhen), the ae‘o (Hawaiian stilt), and the nēnē (Hawaiian goose). Forty-five other species of birds (18 of which are introduced species) also utillize refuge habitat at some point throughout the year.

The Refuge is a relatively flat river valley ranging from 20 to 40 feet above sea level and surrounded by steep, wooded hillsides, up to 1,000 feet high. The water from the Hanalei River is diverted into an east and west supply ditch. It then flows northwest and irrigates approximately 75 acres of wetland impoundments, 180 acres of taro patches, and 90 acres of wet pasture before returning to the river. Hanalei NWR is closed to the public to minimize disturbance and protect endangered waterbirds.