Land treatment is the preferred option for the disposal of wastewater in New Zealand. We applied secondary-treated municipal wastewater to 4 contrasting soils ( a Gley, Pumice, Recent, and Allophanic Soil) at the rate of 50 mm per week, for 4 years. Amounts of N and P in applied wastewater, leachates, and removed in herbage were measured every 1 - 4 weeks, and a range of soil chemical, biochemical and physical characteristics measured by destructive sampling after 2 and 4 years. After 4 years, leaching losses amounted to 290 - 307 kg N on the Gley and Recent Soils, representing approximately 22% of the N applied. Leaching losses from the Allophanic and Pumice Soils were 44 and 69 kg N/ha, respectively, representing < 5% of that applied. More than half of the N leached was in organic forms. Leaching losses of P were < 5 kg P/ha on the Pumice and Allophanic Soils (< 1% of that applied), 41 kg P/ha from the Recent Soil and 65 kg P/ha from the Gley Soil (8% and 13% of that applied, respectively). After 4 years, the total C and microbial C content in the A horizon of the irrigated Recent Soil were, respectively, 47% and 44% less than non-irrigated cores. All irrigated soils showed a rise in pH of up to 1 unit, and all had a marked increase in the exchangeable Na+ which reached 4 - 22% ESP. After 4 years, the saturated and near saturated hydraulic conductivity of the Gley Soil had declined from 567 and 40 mm/h to 56 and 3 mm/h, respectively. Allophanic and Pumice Soils are to be preferred over the Recent and Gley Soils for effective treatment of wastewater and to minimise the loss of nutrients to the wider environment.