Whangaroa Bay

Image: Davide Artioli | Creative Commons


From mangroves to a Maori pa site, Whangaroa in the Bay of Islands offers visitors a number of interesting places to visit. Motukawanui Island is accessed from here.


A stunning area to explore by boat, there are also a number of walks and tramps available. Visit some of the area’s archaeological sites and the memorial for the Rainbow Warrior at Matauri Bay.

Place overview


  • Hunting
  • Walking and tramping
  • Stop kauri dieback and protect kauri
    • Kauri dieback disease is spread through soil.
    • Scrub soil off shoes and gear and check it's all removed before you go.
    • Use a cleaning station when you enter and leave.
    • Always stay on the track.

    How you can help save kauri

In this section

Find things to do and places to stay Whangaroa area

About this place

Nature and conservation

Whangaroa is characterised by unique landforms and outstanding scenery. The harbour features spectacular rocky bluffs and prominent ridge systems of eroded volcanoes clad in some of the last diverse coastal conifer/broadleaf/kauri forest in New Zealand.

Pekapeka Bay is a place with spectacular cliffs and rock formations with some fine regenerating forest.

Several threatened plants such as Calystegia marginata, Pimelea tomentosa and Coprosma neglecta spp “Whangaroa” can be found in the area.

The harbour contains small but important areas of mangrove/saltmarsh wetlands and tidal rivers with banded rail and fernbird.

The open coast is characterised by rocky headlands such as the Mahinepua Peninsula, sandy beaches, and the numerous islands of the Cavalli Group. Motukawanui Island, the largest island of the Cavalli group is highly modified but has high restoration potential.

History and culture

Typical of rich coastal areas, a wide variety of defended and undefended pa, archaic middens, terraces, gardening systems, urupa, wahi tapu and other archaeological features are present. Sites associated with early Maori/European contact include the remains of the ‘Boyd’ buried in the harbour mud.

Kauri milling and ship building are long established industries and one of the last kauri sawmills and shipyards, operated by Lanes & Sons for over a century, can be seen at Totara North.

The ‘Rainbow Warrior’ lies at rest off Matauri Bay with a memorial on a nearby pa.

Getting there

Whangaroa Harbour lies on the east coast, north of Kerikeri. You can access this unique area from the many small roads that branch off State Highway 10.

Know before you go

Dogs, fires and camping are not permitted in the reserves.


Pewhairangi / Bay of Islands Office
Phone:   +64 9 407 0300
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   bayofislandsbooking@doc.govt.nz
Address:   34 Landing Road
Kerikeri 0230
Postal Address:   PO Box 128
Kerikeri 0245
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