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Opua is located in Northland Region
Coordinates: 35°18′51″S 174°7′7″E / 35.31417°S 174.11861°E / -35.31417; 174.11861
CountryNew Zealand
RegionNorthland Region
DistrictFar North District
 • Total612

Opua is a locality in the Bay of Islands, in the sub-tropical Northland Region of New Zealand.[1] It is notable as the first port for overseas yachts arriving in the country after crossing the Pacific Ocean. In the original 1870s plans for the town, it was named Newport.[2] The town of Paihia is nearby, and the small settlement of Te Haumi is in between.

The population of Opua West and Opua East combined was 612 in the 2006 Census, an increase of 60 from 2001.[3]

The car ferry across the Bay of Islands, the main tourist access to Russell, runs between Opua and Okiato.

Port of entry[edit]

Opua is New Zealand's northernmost port of entry for overseas vessels, and a Customs and Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) Place of First Arrival.[4] It is a popular destination for cruising yachts owing to its sheltered, deep water anchorage, and numerous facilities for cruisers, including the 250-berth Opua Marina, Ashby's Boatyard and Opua Cruising Club.


The Opua Branch, a branch line railway sometimes considered part of the North Auckland Line, formerly served the town. The first railway link, from Opua to Kawakawa, opened on 7 April 1884. When the North Auckland Line was completed in 1925, a thrice weekly passenger express train called the Northland Express operated directly to Opua from Auckland. In November 1956, this was replaced by a railcar service run by RM class 88 seaters, but this service terminated at the other northern terminus, Okaihau on the Okaihau Branch. Opua passengers thus had to use mixed trains that carried freight as well as passengers; these trains ceased on 18 June 1976 when the line became freight-only. As Opua's use as a commercial port declined, so did the freight traffic on the railway, and it was last used in 1985.[5]

The line was then leased to the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway, who have operated tourist services between Opua and Kawakawa, with a break when the Land Transport Safety Authority withdrew the line's operating licence. Part of the line in Opua is now on private land, and restoration by the vintage railway trust is proceeding.


The local primary school, Opua School, is a coeducational full primary (years 1-8, with 5 classrooms) school with a decile rating of 7 and a roll of 105.[6] The school was established in 1886. It has an open and easy-going policy of enrolling the children of overseas families mooring in the Bay for weeks or months at a time – making it a highly international school for a small community.[7]


  1. ^ "Place name detail: Opua". New Zealand Gazetteer. Land Information New Zealand. Retrieved 3 November 2007.
  2. ^ Myra Larcombe, "Opua", accessed 3 November 2007.
  3. ^ Quickstats about Opua West and Quickstats about Opua East
  4. ^ http://www.opuamarina.co.nz/portofentry.htm
  5. ^ Geoffrey B. Churchman and Tony Hurst, Railways of New Zealand: A Journey Through History (Auckland: HarperCollins, 1991), 100.
  6. ^ "Te Kete Ipurangi - Opua School". Ministry of Education.
  7. ^ "Opua School: Parents Zone - Overseas Students" Archived 2007-10-09 at the Wayback Machine, accessed 3 November 2007.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°19′S 174°07′E / 35.317°S 174.117°E / -35.317; 174.117