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Beaches and Coastal Facilities

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The Whangarei district boasts a variety of beaches and coastal areas. This page contains information about some of the popular beaches and where boat ramps and other facilities are located.
Updated: 13/09/2016 11:08 a.m.

Ruakaka Beach

The east coast scenery in Northland is one of a rocky coastline interspersed with white sandy beaches.

Whangarei has a reputation as the city with 100 beaches, and offers a range of picturesque and safe places to swim, from the grand scale ocean beaches to small sandy bays along both edges of the harbour. 

The district is also well known for the striking sight of pohutukawa trees (New Zealand's Christmas tree) in full bloom through early summer all along the coastline.

Water quality

The Northland Regional Council conducts water quality tests through the summer at some of our popular beaches. Follow the link below to the Northland Regional Council website for further information.  

Swimming Water Quality   

Whangarei Harbour

The harbour offers good fishing and scallop diving is a popular pastime during the open season.

Two marine reserves have been established in the harbour. One at Motukaroro Island near the harbour entrance at Reotahi is very popular as a snorkelling spot in the summer. The other is further up the harbour at Waikaraka.

Both are well marked and all marine life in them is protected. Please respect the no fishing rule. 

Whangarei Harbour Marine Reserves (Department of Conservation website)

Recreational activities

Swimming and surfing

Surfing beaches at Ocean Beach and Waipu are patrolled by Surf Life Saving New Zealand at weekends during the summer months, generally from the end of October until early April and throughout the week during the summer school holiday in December and January.

Sandy Bay is another popular surfing beach – although not patrolled.

Popular swimming beaches include:

  • Ruakaka - patrolled
  • Matapouri - not patrolled.

Surf Lifesaving NZ website 

Stuart Road Pontoon Closed for repairs.

The Stuart Road Pontoon in McLeods Bay has been closed by WDC for safety reasons, WDC is currently investigating how to repair to pontoon. The Pontoon structure will be repaired and/or replaced over the coming months to ensure the pontoon is safe, and will then be re-opened to the public. WDC will notify of progress of this works on the WDC website.


You can exercise your dog on most beaches in the district, however your dog must be under continuous and effective control at all times.

Rules regarding horses on beaches have recently been introduced in the Public Places Bylaw. While the bylaw generally permits this activity, there are some restrictions. 

There are all year-round ban areas at some coastal locations for conservation purposes plus bans during summer periods. Read more about the restrictions in our Dog Management Policy, Dog Managent Bylaw and on the dog exercise areas on our website.


Vehicles are allowed on many beaches.

The basic rules for everyone to remember are:

  • road rules apply on beaches
  • the beach belongs to everyone – share with care
  • drive slowly and carefully near other beach users
  • watch out for vehicles, and supervise children closely
  • drive to the conditions – they can change rapidly use approved access ways
  • keep vehicles off dunes
  • avoid shore birds and other wildlife

Read more about the rules, speed limits and restrictions on our Vehicles on Beaches Bylaw page.


We recommend you stay at one of our outstanding licensed Holiday Parks or Campsites.

Follow the link below for information on freedom camping in our District


The waters along the coastline are known for good catches of fish, especially snapper and kingfish in season, but also kawhai, trevally, john dory and other species in addition to crayfish and kina.

When James Cook sailed through the area in 1769, the crew caught so many snapper, that they called the area Bream Bay. 

We maintain a number of boat ramps in the district which are suitable for launching recreational fishing boats.

The main beaches and boatramp facilities in the district are shown on the map below.  


Map Legend


Local Boat Ramp

Public Boat Ramp

BBQ - no gas

BBQ - electric


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