Nature and conservation
Te Paepae o Aotea (Volkner Rocks)
Moray eel, Te Paepae o Aotea (Volkner Rocks) Marine Reserve
The Volkner Rocks rise from a depth of 200-400 m. These near-vertical rock faces are covered in colourful encrusting organisms including some recorded only at Volkner Rocks. They lie in the path of the warm east Auckland current, that sweeps subtropical water down the northeast coast of the North Island. This current brings many spectacular visitors to mingle with the locals.
During the summer months, many of the larger shark species can be found in the reserve. Long-tailed stingrays cruise in the middle depths. At times the surface of the water at the base of the rocks turns bright blue and pink as large schools of blue and pink maomao come to the surface to feed.
The eastern Bay of Plenty has a thriving, internationally known sport fishery based around kingfish and marlin. Although you can see schools of these fish in the reserve, no fishing is allowed there.
The rocks are of cultural significance to Ngati Awa and other iwi of the Mataatua waka. Traditionally they are the departure place for the spirits of people of Mataatua descent. Early Polynesian navigators used the rocks as a guide.
Know before you go
The Te Paepae o Aotea (Volkner Rocks) Marine Reserve is 55 km north/north east of Whakatane and 5 km north west of Whakaari (White Island).
You can only visit the marine reserve by boat - there are numerous charter boat services in eastern Bay of Plenty.
There are boat ramps and associated facilities throughout the eastern Bay of Plenty, and visits can also be made by boats from further afield.
Due to its distance offshore and exposed location, you should only visit the marine reserve in calm sea conditions, and preferably in a boat longer than 7 m.