Introduction

The 1,404 ha Tapuae Marine Reserve is on the rugged Taranaki coast close to New Plymouth and adjoins the Ngā Motu/Sugar Loaf Islands Marine Protected Area. It hosts a diverse and flourishing range of sea life.

Highlights

Tapuae Marine Reserve borders Ngā Motu/Sugar Loaf Islands Marine Protected Area. Be aware that the rules of these adjoining areas differ: 

  • you can't fish or remove marine life or natural material within Tapuae Marine Reserve
  • some forms of fishing are permitted within the Ngā Motu/Sugar Loaf Islands Marine Protected Area.

Place overview

Activities

  • Bird and wildlife watching
  • Boating
  • Diving and snorkelling
  • 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 Tapuae Marine Reserve

About this place

Nature and conservation

The remains of an ancient volcano sit at the northern end of Tapuae Marine Reserve, visible as a series of islands and rocks (their steep sides continue deep down beneath the water). The waters here cover a craggy labyrinth of pinnacles, canyons and caves.

Their shelter provides a habitat for around 400 species of fish (especially around Seal Rock). These landforms are also encrusted with the usual reef species of sponges and shellfish, and colonies of bryozoans – tiny animals that build skeletons resembling coral.  

The southern part of the reserve is typical of the wild Taranaki coast – reef, mud and sand below, and black sand beaches above. About a third of the area is rocky reef, mostly cobble and boulder platforms. These scattered reefs shelter many species of marine animals and plants.

Visitors may see New Zealand fur seals, as well as humpback, pilot and southern right whales, and orcas.

Getting there

The reserve can be accessed by boat from the New Plymouth boat ramp on Ocean View Parade.

Know before you go

Tapuae Marine Reserve borders Ngā Motu/Sugar Loaf Islands Marine Protected Area. Be aware that the rules of these adjoining areas differ: 

  • you can't fish or remove marine life or natural material within Tapuae Marine Reserve
  • some forms of fishing are permitted within the Ngā Motu/Sugar Loaf Islands Marine Protected Area.

View map and boundaries for Tapuae Marine Reserve.

Marine reserve rules

Marine reserves are no-take areas. You may not remove any animal or natural form. That means no fishing of any kind, no shellfish gathering, and no removal of rocks, shells, driftwood or plants.

Information signs marked 'Marine Reserve' are posted at clearly visible locations at the New Plymouth boat ramp and at all major access points along the coastline near the marine reserve.

GPS descriptions are given for the seaward boundaries and pamphlets are freely available in many locations to further inform the public about the reserve.

Surveillance and enforcement of the reserve is carried out by DOC. Warranted officers undertake regular patrols and are assisted by Honorary Rangers, from the community, appointed under the Marine Reserves Act.

However, you can help too. Report offences to DOC on +64 6 759 0350 (office hours), or 0800 DOC HOT (after hours).

Central area (lower half of the North Island) fishing rules 

Check fishing rules in the area before you go fishing.  You need to check for: 

  • the set net ban in Taranaki
  • closed and restricted fishing areas
  • temporary closures
  • other set net restrictions
  • food safety closures.

Be prepared

You should always check with Coastguard for weather and sea conditions. Coastguard operates on VHF Ch61.

Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.

Contacts

Ngāmotu / New Plymouth Office
Phone:   +64 6 759 0350
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   newplymouth@doc.govt.nz
Address:   55A Rimu Street
New Plymouth 4312
Postal Address:   PO Box 462
New Plymouth 4340
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