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 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.
Habitats & Species
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.
In the Water
One of the best ways to learn about the reserve and its inhabitants is to get into the water. Those with a mask and snorkel can explore the rocks close to the shore the shallow moat near the southern end of the reserve provides an ideal place to observe and learn about some of the plants and animals you will encounter.
On the Water
Some of the wildlife within the reserve is best seen from the water. Many different types of birds, including gannets, terns, penguins and gulls, are dependent on the sea for food. Marine mammals also visit the reserve - New Zealand
fur seals and several dolphin and whale species are all regularly observed in the area.
The beach and intertidal reefs are best explored at low tide. There is a sandy beach of about 4 km in length, as well as intertidal reef platforms around Pariokonohi Point near the southern boundary. As you explore the intertidal reef, you will encounter a wide variety of marine plants and animals that depend on the rise and fall of the tide for survival, including crabs, barnacles, snails and seaweeds. The intertidal area is also frequented by a number of bird species, such as oystercatchers, New Zealand dotterels, gulls and terns.
The reserve lies approximately 16 km north of Gisborne. It can be reached via State Highway 35, with public access at Pouawa.
Plan & Prepare
Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.