The coastline is a mixture of wild, sandy beaches broken by boulders and reefs, alongside coastal nikau forest
PHOTO: Andris Apse ©


Kahurangi Marine Reserve lies off the far northwest of the South Island. Walkers on the famous Heaphy Track in Kahurangi National Park can enjoy a stroll along its southern reach.

Place overview

  • Marine reserves
    Protect our marine reserves

    They are special places that protect the species and habitats within them.

    • No fishing of any kind
    • Don't take or kill marine life
    • Don't remove or disturb any marine life or materials
    • Don't feed fish - it disturbs their natural behaviour
    • Take care when anchoring to avoid damaging the sea floor
    • Call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) to report any illegal activity

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Find things to do Kahurangi Marine Reserve


Walking and tramping

Mountain bikers at Kahurangi Marine Reserve.
Mountain bikers at Kahurangi Marine Reserve.
Image: DOC

Walkers can explore the beaches and rocky shore along the Heaphy Track, in the southern half of the reserve, but further north it becomes a much more remote and challenging wilderness experience.

Its exposed and remote nature makes it unsuitable for diving, swimming and boating. 

Mountain biking

There are seasonal opportunities for mountain bikers to ride parts of the reserve along the Heaphy Track.

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    About this place

    Nature and conservation

    Kahurangi Marine Reserve protects the marine environment along 16 km of coastline and out to 5 km offshore between Wekakura Point and Crayfish Point.

    The north of the reserve is a remote wilderness visited more by seals than humans. At 84 km2, it is one of the largest marine reserves in mainland New Zealand.

    Kahurangi Marine Reserve coastline.
    Kahurangi Marine Reserve coastline
    Image: Andris Apse ©

    The coastline is a mixture of wild, honey coloured sandy beaches broken by boulders and reefs, bordering the coastal nikau forest of Kahurangi National Park. The marine reserve and national park combine to protect a full sequence of natural landscapes from the mountains to the ocean.

    Driftwood adds a sculptural quality to the beaches, and supports small communities of animals such as earwigs, sandhoppers and spiders.

    Rocky reefs and seastacks reach out from the boulder shores, supporting encrusting animals, invertebrates and inshore fish which thrive in the murky, churning water of this windward coast.

    Kahurangi Marine Reserve coastline and mountains.
    Kahurangi Marine Reserve coastline
    Image: Andris Apse ©

    Fur seals/Kekeno often visit and rest at the Wekakura Point colony in the north of the reserve. It is also home to dozens of Hector’s dolphins.

    The reserve reaches to depths of about 50 m. A seabed of mud and sand provides habitat for burrowing shellfish and coastal fish such as flounder, gurnard, snapper and sharks.

    Getting there

    There is no road access to the marine reserve. Visitors on the Heaphy Track can access the southern half of the marine reserve from Heaphy Bluff to Crayfish Point.

    Know before you go

    Visitors should be well prepared with food, water, warm clothing and wet weather gear. You should tell a responsible person where you are going and how long you expect to be away. 

    You must remain at least 20 m from seals – find out more about sharing our coasts with marine mammals.

    Riding of quad bikes and horses is allowed within the reserve, providing there is minimal disturbance to the site and riders comply with legal requirements.

    Stones (no more than 256 mm in intermediate diameter), shells, driftwood, sand and gravel can be collected by hand recreationally - but only as much as you can carry in one trip and with minimal disturbance to the site.

    Pounamu can also be collected but only by members of Ngāi Tahu Whanui, or with the permission of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.


    Paparoa National Park Visitor Centre
    Phone:   +64 3 731 1895
    Address:   4294 Coast Road
    RD 1
    Runanga 7873
    Full office details
    Kawatiri / Westport Office
    Phone:   +64 3 788 8008
    Address:   Russell Street
    Westport 7825
    Full office details
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