Nature and conservation
Karikari Peninsula is a distinctively shaped land mass on the east side of the Aupouri Peninsula, separating Rangaunu Harbour from Doubtless Bay. The rocky outer part of Karikari was formerly an island. Today it is part of the mainland, connected by the formation of Tokerau beach, located on the east side of the peninsula.
Bird life at Matai Bay includes the variable oystercatcher and the New Zealand dotterel. If you see them or their nests, give them space and let other visitors know, so the birds are not disturbed.
Behind Karikari Beach, northeast of Rangaunu Harbour, is an extensive area of sand dunes wherein lies a significant wetland area, Waimango Swamp. Waimango Swamp and Karikari Bay encompass 220 ha of beach, dunes, semi-drained lagoons and large freshwater swamps.
This wonderful wetland area supports breeding populations of Australasian bittern, banded rail and the North Island fernbird, plus Karikari Beach is home to the endangered New Zealand dotterel, Caspian terns, marsh crakes, a shag colony and the rare native freshwater fish the black mudfish. The wetlands are also feeding areas for several species of migratory shorebirds from the Arctic.
History and culture
The Karikari Peninsula was a favoured area for seasonal hunting and gathering activities by pre-European Māori. Numerous midden are located in the adjacent fore dunes, showing a heavy reliance on marine resources for a long period of time with a focus on seasonal camping.
At Lake Ohia, the former lake bed offers snapshots of the recent past and ancient history showing visible effects of gum-digging and featuring ancient remains of a once thriving kauri forest.
Karikari is the traditional homeland for the Ngati Kahu tribe. In Maori mythology, the waka (canoe) Waipapa, captained by Kaiwhetu and Wairere, made its first landing in New Zealand at Karikari.
Karikari Peninsula is situated in the Far North on the Karikari Peninsula, a 40-minute drive north-east of Kaitaia.
For tour information, contact the Kaitaia i-SITE visitor information centre.
Know before you go
Whatuwhiwhi is the major settlement along the Karikari Peninsula with a dive centre, school, backpackers, cafe, takeaways and general store/petrol station.