Whangaroa Bay
Image: Davide Artioli | Creative Commons

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From mangroves to a Maori pa site, Whangaroa in the Bay of Islands offers visitors a number of interesting places to visit. Motukawanui Island is accessed from here.


A stunning area to explore by boat, there are also a number of walks and tramps available. Visit some of the area’s archaeological sites and the memorial for the Rainbow Warrior at Matauri Bay.

Place overview


  • Hunting
  • Walking and tramping
  • Kauri dieback
    Help stop kauri dieback

    Kauri dieback disease is killing our native kauri. It spreads by soil movement, but you can help prevent it.

    • Stay away from kauri tree roots.
    • Clean your gear before and after visiting kauri forest.

In this section

Find things to do and places to stay Whangaroa area

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Pekapeka Bay offers good fishing. Nearby beaches provide perfect opportunities for swimming and relaxing.

With its unique rock formation, the area is very distinctive and a beautiful place to explore by boat.

You can find another point of interest to the right of Lane Cove hut, where tidal forces have carved the rock façade along the beach into the shape of a wave.

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    About this place

    Nature and conservation

    Whangaroa is characterised by unique landforms and outstanding scenery. The harbour features spectacular rocky bluffs and prominent ridge systems of eroded volcanoes clad in some of the last diverse coastal conifer/broadleaf/kauri forest in New Zealand.

    Pekapeka Bay is a place with spectacular cliffs and rock formations with some fine regenerating forest.

    Several threatened plants such as Calystegia marginata, Pimelea tomentosa and Coprosma neglecta spp “Whangaroa” can be found in the area.

    The harbour contains small but important areas of mangrove/saltmarsh wetlands and tidal rivers with banded rail and fernbird.

    The open coast is characterised by rocky headlands such as the Mahinepua Peninsula, sandy beaches, and the numerous islands of the Cavalli Group. Motukawanui Island, the largest island of the Cavalli group is highly modified but has high restoration potential.

    History and culture

    Typical of rich coastal areas, a wide variety of defended and undefended pa, archaic middens, terraces, gardening systems, urupa, wahi tapu and other archaeological features are present. Sites associated with early Maori/European contact include the remains of the ‘Boyd’ buried in the harbour mud.

    Kauri milling and ship building are long established industries and one of the last kauri sawmills and shipyards, operated by Lanes & Sons for over a century, can be seen at Totara North.

    The ‘Rainbow Warrior’ lies at rest off Matauri Bay with a memorial on a nearby pa.

    Getting there

    Whangaroa Harbour lies on the east coast, north of Kerikeri. You can access this unique area from the many small roads that branch off State Highway 10.

    Know before you go

    Dogs, fires and camping are not permitted in the reserves.


    Pewhairangi / Bay of Islands Office
    Phone:   +64 9 407 0300
    Address:   34 Landing Road
    Kerikeri 0230
    Email:   bayofislandsbooking@doc.govt.nz
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