Located in the Taranaki region
The Tapuae Marine Reserve borders Ngā Motu/Sugar Loaf Islands Marine Protected Area and the rules of these adjoining areas differ. In Tapuae Marine Reserve, you can't fish or remove marine life or natural material. In Ngā Motu/Sugar Loaf Islands Marine Protected Area, some forms of fishing are permitted.
You’ll see New Zealand fur seals/kekeno on and around the islands - pups are born in the summer.
Kekeno spend a lot of time on land in their rocky rest areas (haul outs). The males are bigger and more heavily muscled than the females. You may see the dominant bulls defending their territory by glaring, posturing and even fighting.
Remember seals are wild animals and will defend their territory aggressively. Enjoy them from a distance, at least 20 m away.
Access the boat ramp from Ocean View Parade, New Plymouth.
The seas in this reserve can be quite wild - always check with Coastguard for weather and sea conditions. Coastguard operates on VHF Ch61.
The best time of year to dive is January to April - there is plenty to explore amongst the rocks and canyons of the northern reserve.
On a calm day, there are snorkelling opportunities off the beach at the Tapuae stream end.
The reserve can be accessed by boat from the New Plymouth boat ramp on Ocean View Parade.
Tapuae Marine Reserve borders Ngā Motu/Sugar Loaf Islands Marine Protected Area. Be aware that the rules of these adjoining areas differ:
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).
Check fishing rules in the area before you go fishing. You need to check for:
You should always check with Coastguard for weather and sea conditions. Coastguard operates on VHF Ch61.
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.
This Marine Protected Area comprises 749 ha of seabed, foreshore and water around the Ngā Motu/Sugar Loaf Islands. It offers some great recreational opportunities.
To protect Māui dolphin and the marine environment there is a set net ban, a Marine Protected Area, part of a Marine Mammal Sanctuary and two marine reserves in the Taranaki region.