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Tāwharanui Marine Reserve is good for families, with pōhutukawa lined beaches, good swimming and rockpooling. It runs along the northern side of Tāwharanui Regional Park (on Takatu Peninsula) and is a 90 minute drive north of Auckland.

Place overview


  • Boating
  • Diving and snorkelling
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
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Find things to do Tāwharanui Marine Reserve

      Diving and snorkelling

      Diver and moray eel.
      Diver and moray eel

      The best way to experience the reserve and its inhabitants is to get into the water with them.

      Those with a mask and snorkel can explore the rocks close to shore, while divers can drop onto the reefs further out.


      Tāwharanui’s white sandy beaches and clear waters are great for swimming. The most popular swimming beach is Anchor Bay, where toilets are available. It is also a popular spot for surfing if there's a swell on the east coast.

      Child/family friendly activities

      At low tide the kids can explore the rock pools. If you turn the boulders over to look underneath or pick up any sea creatures, remember to put them back carefully afterwards, otherwise creatures beneath them may die.

      Tāwharanui’s beaches make a great place for a family picnic. The regional park is also a working farm, so children can enjoy seeing the sheep and cows.


      The nearest boat launching ramp to the marine reserve is at Omaha. Boaties are welcome to navigate and anchor carefully in the reserve. Extra caution may be needed in some areas because of the number of divers and swimmers.

      Do not exceed five knots within 200 m of the shore or a dive flag, or within 30 m of any other boat or person in the water.

      Boats can enter the marine reserve after fishing outside its boundaries, but it is recommended that fishing rods are stowed out of sight while visiting the marine reserve. Remember, do not feed the fish or discharge anything into the water.

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      About this place

      Nature and conservation

      Aerial view of Tāwharanui Peninsula. Photo copyright: Auckland Council/Wild Earth Media.
      Aerial view of Tāwharanui Peninsula

      The area has been off limits for fishing since 1981, but it was only made a marine reserve in 2011. It sits within the much larger Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.

      Its unique feature is geological – greywacke rock is exposed forming huge grey-green rocks. These ancient rocks from the Jurassic period are studded with rare marine fossils.

      Tāwharanui contains extensive intertidal and subtidal reefs typical of the moderately exposed coast of the outer Hauraki Gulf. About 50 species of fish have been recorded in the reserve, which also supports a thriving population of lobster. Bottle nosed dolphins and orcas often visit the area.

      The marine reserve is picturesquely situated alongside sandy beaches and gentle farmland, with some stands of native bush and large regenerating wetlands (outside the reserve).

      Monitoring reports

      Fish monitoring:

      Lobster monitoring:

      Cape Rodney–Okakari Point and Tāwharanui Marine Reserve rock lobster monitoring - 2014, 2009 and 2004 reports 

      Getting there

      Tāwharanui Marine Reserve is on the northern coast of the Tawharanui Peninsula in the Rodney District, approximately 90 kilometres  (one and a half hours)  from Auckland City.

      Take State Highway 1 north to Warkworth. Follow the signs to Matakana. Just past Matakana turn right at the Omaha turn off and drive along Takatu Road, following the signs to the Tawharanui Regional Park. Note that the last 6 km to the regional park is a winding gravel road.

      Anchor Bay, Tāwharanui Marine Reserve.
      Anchor Bay, Tāwharanui Marine Reserve

      Once you reach the regional park, continue through the predator proof fence to Anchor Bay, where parking is available.

      What to bring

      Bring good walking shoes, warm clothes, swimming and snorkelling gear, sunblock, sunhat and food and drinking water. Bring your surf board or boogie board if the waves are right!

      Know before you go

      • No fishing of any kind is permitted.
      • Do not take or disturb any marine life, including shellfish and seaweeds.
      • Do not remove any part of the sea floor, including rocks, shells or washed up seaweeds.
      • Do not feed the fish as this disturbs their natural behaviour and can make them aggressive.
      • Do not exceed five knots in a boat or on a jetski within 200 m of the mainland, a dive flag, or within 50 m of a boat or person in the water.
      • Dogs are not permitted in the Tāwharanui Regional Park or the marine reserve at any time.
      • Take your rubbish away.
      • Do not light fires on the beach or on the grassy areas.

      Map and boundaries

      Map of Tāwharanui Marine Reserve.
      View larger map (PDF, 42K)

      Marine reserve boundary GPS points (WGS 84)
      1. 5974323.8 1763375.7 36° 21' 44.36"S 174 49' 15.56"E
      2. 5974661.8 1763377.5 36° 21' 33.40"S 174° 49' 15.38"E
      3. 5975150.5 1767064.1 36° 21' 15.27"S 174° 51' 42.85"E
      4. 5974255.8 1767043.2 36° 21' 44.30"S 174° 51' 42.71"E

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