Yellow sponge at Horoirangi Marine Reserve

Image: Anna Barnett | Creative Commons


Horoirangi Marine Reserve lies north of Nelson city along the eastern side of Tasman Bay/Te Tai-o-Aorere. The reserve is a great place for walking, exploring the intertidal zone, snorkelling, diving, kayaking and boating.

Place overview


  • Bird and wildlife watching
  • Diving and snorkelling
  • Kayaking and canoeing
  • Protect our marine reserves
    • 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.

In this section

Find things to do and places to stay Horoirangi Marine Reserve

About this place

Nature and conservation

The bluffs overlooking Horoirangi Marine Reserve are more than a dramatic landscape, they are also the source of rocks for the rugged boulder reefs below. The reefs extend offshore up to 400 m and to a depth of around 20 m.

The boulders on the upper shore, regularly moved by the waves, are mostly devoid of life. Lower down the reefs are much more stable, forming a matrix of interlocking boulders interspersed with occasional patches of bedrock.

The reefs support a typical array of animals. Shellfish, anemones, sponges and sea squirts cling to the rocks; snails, starfish and crustaceans move secretively amongst the boulders, and various fish patrol above.

Ambush starfish are unusually common in Horoirangi, and their colours provide a sharp contrast to the subdued hues of the rocks and most of the other reef species.

Brown seaweeds form a dense forest between Mackay Bluff and the dramatic rocks at Ataata Point.

Getting there

The southern end of the marine reserve at Glenduan is a short, 12 km drive from Nelson. From here you can walk along the reserve, but watch for the incoming tide and take care over the boulders, as they can be unstable and slippery. Kayaks can also be launched and retrieved, with care, across Te Pokohiwi/Boulder Bank.

For larger boats, there are good launching facilities at Nelson and Mapua, before embarking on a 12 km boat trip north along the outer Boulder Bank. While out on the water, keep a wary eye on the weather and sea conditions; there is little shelter along this stretch of coast and stiff sea breezes regularly occur in summer.

At the northern end of the marine reserve, and well worth the 21 km drive, is Rotokura/Cable Bay. Although you cannot reach the reserve from here on foot, kayaks and small boats can be launched from Cable Bay beach for a pleasant trip across to Ataata Point and into the northern sector of the reserve.

Large yellow triangles onshore mark the northern and southern boundaries; offshore buoys mark the ends and the outermost corners of the reserve. Note these markers may not always be present due to operational requirements.

Know before you go

Remember all animals, plants, and the sea bed are totally protected.

  • No fishing, netting, hand gathering, taking or killing of marine life
  • No polluting, disturbance or damage of marine life or the sea bed
  • No removal of any natural material from the marine reserve.


Whakatū / Nelson Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 546 9339
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   Millers Acre/Taha o te Awa
79 Trafalgar Street
Nelson 7010
Postal Address:   Private Bag 5
Nelson 7042
Motueka Office
Phone:   +64 3 528 1810
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   Cnr King Edward & High Streets
Motueka 7120
Postal Address:   PO Box 97
Motueka 7143
Back to top