Tauparikākā coastline

Image: Andris Apse | ©


This small marine reserve (16 ha) has been created as an educational site because of its accessibility, variety of habitats, and simple beauty. This is one of the best places to see Hector dolphins without the need for a boat.

Place overview


  • Information panels


  • Bird and wildlife watching
  • 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 Tauparikākā Marine Reserve

About this place

Nature and conservation

The tidal lagoon and foreshore at Ship Creek lie within Tauparikākā Marine Reserve, which extends out to 200 m offshore. The lagoon’s tea-coloured water is stained by natural tannins from the beech and podocarp forest above.

A gentle board walk runs through sand dunes covered in the native sand sedge, pingao.

This is one of the best places to see the world’s smallest dolphins – Hector dolphins – without the need for a boat, as they often play in the surf near the beach.

Hectors dolphin. Photo © Dina Engel & Andreas Maecker.
Hector dolphins often play in the surf near the beach at Tauparikākā Marine Reserve

Group enjoying the Ship Creek environment. Photo: Katrina Henderson
Perfect for an educational site, Tauparikākā Marine Reserve is accessible, has a variety of habitats and beautiful scenery

Getting there

Tauparikākā Marine Reserve lies a 20 minute drive north of Haast, just off the highway at the Ship Creek visitor site.

Know before you go

No particular planning or preparation is needed to visit Tauparikākā Marine Reserve, though sandfly repellent is a good idea. Swimming is not generally advisable.

Riding of quad bikes and horses is allowed within the reserve, providing there is minimal disturbance to the site and riders comply with legal requirements.

Stones (no more than 256 mm in intermediate diameter), shells, driftwood, sand and gravel can be collected by hand recreationally, but only as much as you can carry in one trip and with minimal disturbance to the site.

Pounamu can also be collected but only by members of Ngāi Tahu Whanui, or with the permission of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.

Back to top