Nature and conservation
The subtidal area of the reserve contains several distinct habitats. Down to about 10 metres in depth, a variety of seaweeds such as flapjack and kelp can be found and kina, marine snails, sponges and other animals are common. Fish species include spotties (paketi), banded wrasse (tangahangaha), red moki (nanua), hiwihiwi, butterfish (greenbone, marari), marblefish (kehe) and parore.
You may see hundreds of tiny crayfish in the crevices and overhangs, depending on the time of year. At between 10 and 20 metres depth, there are extensive kelp forests, which are home to many different fish species, such as scarlet wrasse (puwaiwhakarua), scorpionfish, sweep (hui) and leatherjackets (kokiri). Sponges, hydroids, anemones, soft corals and sea squirts thrive on the rock faces and overhangs.
History and culture
Te Tapuwae o Rongokako marine reserve is on the east coast of the North Island, approximately 16 km north of Gisborne.
You can get to the reserve from SH35, public access at Pouawa.
Know before you go
Be aware of private land. The beach above the strand line of the seaweed is private land. The pa and farmland are private property and there is no public access.
Don't take, disturb, kill or damage anything within the reserve - it's illegal. If you see people taking anything from the reserve, report the activity to DOC as soon as possible. You can call 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224) or 0800 DOCHOT (0800 362 468). It is also an offence to pollute or litter the reserve, discharge any firearm in or into the reserve or erect any structure in the reserve.
Low tide is best for beach-walking and also for snorkelling or shore-diving, as the reef platform can be almost completely cut off from the open sea at low tide, creating a shallow and sheltered area for entering the water and for exploring the rocky shore.
Weather and sea conditions can change rapidly - be prepared by checking the local tide tables and the weather forecast.