The Tutukaka Coast is studded with beautiful beaches, and is the starting point for adventures out to the famous Poor Knights Islands.
Driving north, travellers come to Ngunguru, a settlement on a calm estuary, with shops and cafes, a 9 hole golf course, and tennis courts. There is a playground, boat ramp, ski lane and kayak hire. The Ngunguru Bar has a left hand river mouth bar break, best suited to experienced surfers.
Ngunguru, meaning “rumbling tides”, was named by Puhi, the captain of the Mataatua canoe, who sailed along this coast and named many places on his way. The Ngunguru sandspit was the site of a large battle between Maori tribes in 1838, and is considered a wāhi tapu by local iwi. The sandspit was acquired by DoC in 2011, to protect its unique ecology and cultural heritage.
Tutukaka itself is a busy little seaside village, with restaurants, marina and charter boats galore. This is the gateway to the Poor Knights Islands, which are world-renowned as a top dive destination. These volcanic islands lie 25kms offshore, and are home to a rich variety of native plants, birds and reptiles on land, and teeming sealife below the famously clear water. The islands are uninhabited, and are surrounded by marine reserve, making this a unique and pristine environment to explore. Non-divers can enjoy the Poor Knights too, with kayaking and snorkeling opportunities, and a visit to Rikoriko, the world’s largest sea cave. For those who like wreck diving, the HMS Tui and HMS Waikato wrecks are accessible from Tutukaka as well.
The Tutukaka Coast is also a popular spot for deep sea fishing. If you’re better at the eating than the catching, and want some fresh snapper or tarakihi to cook up at the bach, try Seafare Fish Market Tutukaka, and buy straight from the boat, J Pier, generally every Saturday, 10a.m. - 1p.m.
There are lovely beaches and coves strung along the coast. Matapouri, Whale Bay and Sandy Bay are especially picturesque and very popular with families. Discover walking tracks around the headlands to find the best rock-hopping and fishing spots, like the Mermaid’s Pool at the north end of Matapouri Bay. Sandy Bay is popular as a surf spot, and Daisy Bay, accessible by parking at the top of McAuslin Rd, has some of the best surf in the area.
What to do
- Take the family rock-hopping to discover rock pools and sea life
- Take a walkway with bush and coastal views
- Catch a wave at Sandy Bay
- Go deep sea fishing
- Eat fresh seafood at a cafe near the wharf
- Explore the bay by boat
- Dive or snorkel at the Poor Knights