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Te Tapuwae O Rongokako Marine Reserve

Established in 1999, the Te Tapuwae o Rongokako marine reserve is the result of many years of work by the joint applicants Ngati Konohi and the Department of Conservation.

The reserve lies on the East Coast of the North Island, approximately 16km north of Gisborne. It can be reached via State Highway 35, with public access at Pouawa. Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve protects a piece of the coastline of approximately 2450 hectares. The reserve is special in that it contains eight marine habitat types, including inshore reef, rocky intertidal platforms and sediment flats, that are representative of the marine area between East Cape and Mahia Peninsula.

The subtidal area of the reserve contains several distinct habitats. Down to about 10 metres in depth, a variety of seaweeds such as flapjack and kelp can be found and kina, marine snails, sponges and other animals are common. Some of the fish that you may see include spotties (paketi), banded wrasse (tangahangaha), red moki (nanua), hiwihiwi, butterfish (greenbone, marari), marblefish (kehe) and parore.


The coast around Gisborne attracts high numbers of crayfish and as you explore the crevices and overhangs you may see hundreds of tiny crayfish, depending on the time of year. At between 10 and 20 metres depth, there are extensive kelp forests, which are home to many different fish species, such as scarlet wrasse (puwaiwhakarua), scorpionfish, sweep (hui) and leatherjackets (kokiri). Sponges, hydroids, anemones, soft corals and sea squirts thrive on the rock faces and overhangs.

The Experiencing Marine Reserves programme is active in this reserve.

Find out more on the DoC website, or visit the following link(s):

The reserves Order in Council.

Gisborne AUT students research on the management of the Te Tapuwae O Rongokako Marine Reserve. Sponsors