Introduction

Horoirangi Marine Reserve lies north of Nelson city along the eastern side of Tasman Bay. The reserve is a great place for walking, exploring the intertidal zone, snorkelling, diving, kayaking and boating.

Place overview

Activities

  • Bird and wildlife watching
  • Diving and snorkelling
  • Kayaking and canoeing
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In this section

Find things to do Horoirangi Marine Reserve

      Exploring the marine reserve

      The reserve is a great place for walking, exploring the intertidal zone, snorkelling, diving, kayaking and boating.

      A climb up Cable Bay Walkway through the neighbouring farmland requires sturdy footwear and reasonable fitness, but will reward you with expansive views over Horoirangi and out across Tasman Bay. Note the walkway is closed during the spring lambing season. No dogs are allowed at any time.

      A walk along the Nelson Boulder Bank is also worth the effort, though be prepared for windy conditions and rough, ankle-testing rocks.

      Bird watching

      For bird watchers, variable oyster catchers and blue penguins nest along the rocky shoreline. Over winter, spotted shags roost on the rocky crags at Ataata Point.

      About this place

      Nature and conservation

      The bluffs overlooking Horoirangi Marine Reserve are more than a dramatic landscape, they are also the source of rocks for the rugged boulder reefs below. The reefs extend offshore up to 400 m and to a depth of around 20 m.

      The boulders on the upper shore, regularly moved by the waves, are mostly devoid of life. Lower down the reefs are much more stable, forming a matrix of interlocking boulders interspersed with occasional patches of bedrock.

      The reefs support a typical array of animals. Shellfish, anemones, sponges and sea squirts cling to the rocks; snails, starfish and crustaceans move secretively amongst the boulders, and various fish patrol above.

      Ambush starfish are unusually common in Horoirangi, and their colours provide a sharp contrast to the subdued hues of the rocks and most of the other reef species.

      Brown seaweeds form a dense forest between Mackay Bluff and the dramatic rocks at Ataata Point.

      Octopus moving over subtidal reef at Horoirangi Marine Reserve. Photo: Eric Simmons.
      Octopus moving over subtidal reef at Horoirangi Marine Reserve

      A vividly coloured ambush starfish waits patiently for its prey. Photo: Eric Simmons.
      A vividly coloured ambush starfish waits patiently for its prey

      Hermit crabs are common on the offshore sediments. Photo: Eric Simmons.
      Hermit crabs are common on the offshore sediments

      Monitoring

      Significant increases in the abundance and size of marine species in Tasman Bay marine reserves confirm their conservation benefits. Research shows that 20 years after the Tonga Island Marine Reserve was created, there are more than seven times as many crayfish and 40 times as many blue cod over 30 centimetres.

      Getting there

      The southern end of the marine reserve at Glenduan is a short, 12km drive from Nelson. From here you can walk along the reserve, but watch for the incoming tide and take care over the boulders, as they can be unstable and slippery. Kayaks can also be launched and retrieved—with care—across the Boulder Bank.

      For larger boats, there are good launching facilities at Nelson and Mapua, before embarking on a 12km boat trip north along the outer Boulder Bank. While out on the water, keep a wary eye on the weather and sea conditions; there is little shelter along this stretch of coast and stiff sea breezes regularly occur in summer.

      At the northern end of the marine reserve, and well worth the 21 km drive, is Cable Bay. Although you cannot reach the reserve from here on foot, kayaks and small boats can be launched from Cable Bay beach for a pleasant trip across to Ataata Point and into the northern sector of the reserve.

      Large yellow triangles onshore mark the northern and southern boundaries; offshore buoys mark the ends and the outermost corners of the reserve. Note these markers may not always be present due to operational requirements.

      Biscuit star. Photo: Eric Simmons.
      Biscuit star

      Boys looking in rock pools at Horoirangi Marine Reserve. Photo: Andrew Baxter.
      Boys looking in rock pools at Horoirangi Marine Reserve

      Know before you go

      Remember all animals, plants, and the sea bed are totally protected.

      • No fishing, netting, hand gathering, taking or killing of marine life
      • No polluting, disturbance or damage of marine life or the sea bed
      • No removal of any natural material from the marine reserve.

      Contacts

      Nelson Visitor Centre
      Phone:      +64 3 546 9339
      Address:   Millers Acre/Taha o te Awa
      79 Trafalgar Street
      Nelson 7010
      Email:   nelsonvc@doc.govt.nz
      Full office details
      Motueka Office
      Phone:      +64 3 528 1810
      Email:   motueka@doc.govt.nz
      Full office details
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