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Ferry between Opua and Okiato, Bay of Islands, New Zealand, with Opua in the distance
Ferry between Opua and Okiato, Bay of Islands, New Zealand, with Opua in the distance
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
 • Total546
House on the Water at Opua

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.

According to the 2013 New Zealand census, Opua has a population of 546, a decrease of 66 people since the 2006 census.[3][4]

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

The New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage gives a translation of "place of the flower" for Ōpua.[5]

The Waimangaro area north-west of Opua is listed on the Ngāpuhi and Te Puni Kōkiri websites as a traditional meeting point of the Ngāpuhi hapū of Te Uri Ongaonga.[6][7][8]

Port of entry

Opua is New Zealand's northernmost port of entry for overseas vessels, and a Customs and Ministry for Primary Industries Place of First Arrival.[9] 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.[10]

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 roll of 104 students.[11][12] 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.[13]


  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. ^ 2013 Census QuickStats about a place : Opua East
  4. ^ 2013 Census QuickStats about a place : Opua West
  5. ^ "1000 Māori place names". New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 6 August 2019.
  6. ^ "Te Kāhui Māngai directory". tkm.govt.nz. Te Puni Kōkiri.
  7. ^ "Ngāpuhi Marae". dev.ngapuhi.iwi.nz.
  8. ^ "Ngāpuhi Marae" (PDF). ngapuhi-runanga.nz.
  9. ^ http://www.opuamarina.co.nz/portofentry.htm
  10. ^ Geoffrey B. Churchman and Tony Hurst, Railways of New Zealand: A Journey Through History (Auckland: HarperCollins, 1991), 100.
  11. ^ "Directory of Schools - as at 3 April 2019". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  12. ^ Education Counts: Opua School
  13. ^ "Opua School: Parents Zone - Overseas Students" Archived 2007-10-09 at the Wayback Machine, accessed 3 November 2007.

External links

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