Looking towards Ngunguru Sandspit

Image: Edouard Poor | Creative Commons


DOC acquired 83 ha of Ngunguru Sandspit land to protect and preserve this taonga/treasure.

Aerial view of Ngunguru Sandspit. Click image to view larger (PDF, 165K).
Aerial view of Ngunguru Sandspit. View larger (PDF, 165K)

It was acquired from the Todd Property Group on 25 August 2011.

The land transfer was completed on 30 September 2011 when it became public conservation land, classified as a Scenic Reserve pursuant to the Reserves Act 1977. This legislation directs how the area is to be managed and what activities are permitted on the land.

The acquisition of the Ngunguru Sandspit by the DOC was a culmination of years of lobbying and effort by the Ngunguru Sandspit Protection Society, to protect and preserve this taonga/treasure.

Importance of the sandspit

The Ngunguru Sandspit has very high cultural and historical values including associated middens. It was also the site of a very large battle in 1838. Tangata whenua Ngati Taka, Te Waiariki and Ngāti Korora regard the sandspit as a wāhi tapu.

The sandspit also supports a high diversity of plant and animal species reflecting the wide diversity of habitat types. Over 15 species of threatened and seriously at risk plant and fauna species are present including the coastal sand binding plant known as pīngao, the New Zealand dotterel and the third largest population of a small snail known as Succinea archeyi.

A range of introduced plant and animal pests has been identified as detrimental to the maintenance of indigenous values.

The Ngunguru Sandspit is representative of a relatively intact ecology, it is a very rare remnant, and it is thought to be the last undeveloped sandspit of its type on the east coast of Northland. It is an important landscape feature for the Ngunguru/Tutukaka community.

Under the Scenic Reserve status, public have freedom of entry and access. However, please treat this culturally sensitive site with respect and note the boundaries of the public land.
View the boundaries of Ngunguru Sandspit Scenic Reserve.  

Future of the sandspit land

There are no immediate plans for the provision of recreation facilities or similar work on the sandspit, and for the time being the sandspit’s landscape, biodiversity, and cultural values are best managed by keeping the areas as open space.

The area has no public vehicle access but people can get to the sandspit by paddling across approximately 300 m of the Ngunguru estuary, at low tide.

DOC is working with tangata whenua and the community to develop a shared vision of how to care for the sandspit for future generations to respect and enjoy.

Ngunguru Community Engagement Hui

On 21 July 2012, DOC held the first 'Ngunguru Community Engagement Hui' for the Ngunguru Sandspit at the Ngunguru Marae.

Feedback from this hui indicated that the sandspit was important to people because it was a wāhi tapu and a 'wilderness' place of spiritual and cultural integrity. The sandspit was an area that brought the whole community together, although people had different priorities. It was a quiet place to walk and observe and a place of special wairua.

People at the hui indicated that in the future they would like to see:

  • More public information and education (including signage) available to educate people, in particular about the cultural (wāhi tapu) and historic values of the sandspit
  • Protection of the biodiversity values on the sandspit – this includes restoration of the sand dune habitat and the removal of pest plants and animals
  • Designated public access pathways and boundary markers so as to protect the cultural and biodiversity (dune habitat, special plants and animals) values on the sandspit
  • The sandspit as a place for passive recreation – walking, surfing, but no fires, horses, dogs, vehicles or camping
  • The removal or change of location for the ski-lane in the river
  • The erection of Pou whenua to mark boundaries

Boundaries of Ngunguru Sandspit Scenic Reserve

Boundaries of Ngungure Sandspit Scenic Reserve.


Whangarei Office
Phone:   +64 9 470 3300
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   whangarei@doc.govt.nz
Address:   2 South End Ave
Whangarei 0110
Postal Address:   PO Box 842
Whangarei 0140
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