Mahia Peninsula

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NASA satellite image of the Mahia Peninsula
Location of Mahia Peninsula

The Mahia Peninsula, also written as Māhia Peninsula,[1] is located on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island, between the cities of Napier and Gisborne.


The peninsula is 21.7 kilometres (13.5 mi) long and 11.3 km (7 mi) wide. Its highest point is Rahuimokairoa (397 m (1,302 ft)) above sea level. Mahia was initially an island but over time, a sand bar joined it to the North Island.[2]


The name Mahia means "indistinct sound".[3]

Portland Island ('Waikawa') is a small island off the southern tip of Mahia Peninsula with an unmanned lighthouse. It was named by Kahungunu when he visited there to look for fresh drinking water and only found salt water[citation needed]. Waikawa means "sour water".

Whales often strand on the shallow sand build up[citation needed].

Shore whaling was briefly important on the Mahia Peninsula[4][3] and early whalers had a whaling station on the farm "Kini Kini", sheltered by "Long Point" on the west coast of the peninsula.


Mahia Beach in the morning

The area is a popular seaside resort and contains a holiday park dating back to the 1960s.[5] The remaining settlement consists mostly of holiday houses and baches. Sheep and cattle farms are still an important part for the local community, however the most important activity of the area is tourism. Mahia's population swells greatly during the warmer months and in particular during school holidays. Mahia is famous for its surf, scuba diving, hiking, and fishing.[6] Many tourists stay in Napier, Hastings or Wairoa and travel to Mahia Peninsula for the day[citation needed]. Morere Hot Springs is located at the northern end of Mahia Peninsula.

In Maori legend, Whatonga who came to New Zealand in search of his grandfather Toi, settled at Mahia. The community these days is still generally a mix of Maori and European[citation needed]. The local Maori people are known as Ngāti Rongomaiwahine.[1]

From 2007 to 2010 Mahia was famous for the presence of Moko the Dolphin.

Rocket range[edit]

The Rocket Lab company have set up their Launch Complex 1 on the peninsula to launch its Electron rocket. Once in regular operations, it will be used as a commercial launcher of miniature satellites called CubeSats.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Taonga, New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatu. "Māhia Peninsula". Retrieved 2017-04-19. 
  2. ^ [1] - The New Zealand Bay Fisher 2016
  3. ^ a b Shortt, Bill (February 7, 2016). "Mahia takes the cake". The Gisbourne Herald. Retrieved 22 May 2017. 
  4. ^ "Shore-based whaling". Te Ara. Retrieved 22 May 2017. 
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ "Mahia Travel Guide". Jasons Travel Media. 
  7. ^ Rocket Lab Plans Electron Test Launches This Year. Jeff Foust, Space News. 19 April 2016.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°09′S 177°54′E / 39.150°S 177.900°E / -39.150; 177.900