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Parininihi Marine Reserve

Parininihi Marine Reserve has now joined the network of marine reserves to protect a portion of our unique subsea environments for future New Zealanders. Located in the southern most reaches of the Taranaki Bight, it protects an isolated offshore reef in the shadow of the towering White Cliffs (Parininihi). Within the reserve boundaries, all marine life, habitat, objects and structures are protected.

Marine Scientists consider the 1800ha Parininihi Marine Reserve area to be a “classic” section of the wild Taranaki coastline. It is home to a variety of fish species and large lobster populations - but what makes the area particularly special is its collection of rare and exotic sponges which spread in a vividly coloured carpet across the ocean floor. It is a “high energy” part of the coastline in which sand is constantly on the move and the environment is always changing.

There is only one other marine reserve off the west coast of the North Island - the 2167ha Kapiti Marine Reserve which was gazetted in 1992.

The environment

Marine biologist Chris Battershill, a renowned expert on marine sponges, rates Pariokariwa Reef in the reserve area, as one of the top sponge spots in the world.  Many of these fantastic “undersea gardens” remain unexplored and may yield further scientific discoveries.


Parininihi is home to a variety of fish species such as blue cod, blue moki, red moki, gurnard, john dory, kahawai, red cod, terakihi, trevally and snapper.  It has also been reported to have a large rock lobster population. Parininihi has also remained relatively undamaged by sedimentation, so protecting the area as a reserve presents an opportunity to preserve that status for future generations.

The reserve can be accessed by boat from the Tongapurutu River, Urenui River, Waitara River (bar crossings), or by traveling one hour north from New Plymouth boat ramp. You should always check with Coastguard for weather and sea conditions.  Coastguard operates on VHF Ch61. There are no charter boats servicing this area.

Find out more about this reserve on the DoC website, or visit the following links:

News Article on the establishment of the Parininihi Marine Reserve. 

Progressive Party Leader - Jim Anderton comments on the establishment of this new reserve from the beehive.

The reserves Order in Council.

2003 Public Summary on the Parininihi proposal. Sponsors