Located in the Bay of Plenty region
The underwater scenery and marine life in the marine reserve is spectacular. Underwater visibility is generally excellent due to low levels of sedimentation and run-off, but can drop to less than 6 m during seasonal phytoplankton blooms.
You can snorkel in the lee of the pinnacles and among some reef channels. A number of recognised dive sites are also located within the marine reserve.
Please remember all animals and plants, and the sea bed are totally protected.
Be aware, the Volkner rocks were formerly used as a bombing range by the New Zealand Air Force. Most of the ordinance has been removed but some may remain. If you notice anything resembling a bomb or missile in the marine reserve you should not touch it, note its location and inform local DOC staff immediately.
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.
The Volkner Rocks rise from a depth of 200 to 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.
Auckland and parts of the Waikato are at Level 3. DOC huts and campsites are closed in these regions. The rest of New Zealand is at Level 2.