Porirua Harbour

Coordinates: 41°05′S 174°51′E / 41.083°S 174.850°E / -41.083; 174.850
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Te Awarua-o-Porirua Harbour
Porirua Harbour
Photograph of sunset over harbour
Sunset over Porirua Inlet and Harbour entrance
Map showing Porirua on the south-western coast of the North Island
Map showing Porirua on the south-western coast of the North Island
Te Awarua-o-Porirua Harbour
Location on the North Island
LocationPorirua, Wellington, New Zealand
Coordinates41°05′S 174°51′E / 41.083°S 174.850°E / -41.083; 174.850
River sourcesPorirua Stream, Pauatahanui Stream
Ocean/sea sourcesTasman Sea

Te Awarua-o-Porirua Harbour, commonly known as Porirua Harbour, is a natural inlet in the south-western coast of the North Island of New Zealand.[1]

The harbour is within the main urban area of the Wellington Region, and is surrounded by the city of Porirua, with the city centre to the south of the harbour. It is a regional park, administered by Wellington Regional Council.[1]


The harbour has an entrance only a few hundred metres in width, close to the suburb of Plimmerton. It opens up into two arms, Onepoto Arm to the south and Pauatahanui Arm to the north-east. Each arm is around three kilometres in length.[1]

The Pauatahanui Inlet arm extends eastward to the settlement of Pauatahanui. The wetland there where the Pauatahanui Stream enters the Pauatahanui Inlet, is the largest remaining estuarine wetland in the lower North Island, and the Pauatahanui Wildlife Reserve was established in the 1980s to protect the inlet's environment and to restore damaged areas.[1]


The Porirua Harbour formed when westward flowing rivers were drowned by rising postglacial sea levels approximately 10000-14000 years ago.[2] There is a tradition that the 1855 Wairarapa Earthquake caused tectonic uplift in the Pauatahanui Arm of the inlet, changing the shoreline and reducing its navigability. However, according to George Eiby, the inlet always had limited accessibility, and the earthquake didn't significantly change the shoreline, with any changes likely coming from more recent sedimentation.[3]

Part of the Porirua Inlet was reclaimed for a causeway carrying the North Island Main Trunk railway when the section between Porirua and Mana was straightened and double tracked. The new section of the Kapiti Line was opened on 7 November 1960. A new Paremata Railway Station and bridge over the entrance to the Pauatahanui Inlet were required.[4][5]

The line no longer followed the curves of the shoreline bays north of Porirua, and three shallow lagoons on the land side of the new causeway were created. When State Highway 1 was re-aligned and straightened in the 1970s to run alongside the rail line, these lagoons were partially filled in. Aotea Lagoon was developed into a recreational area, albeit very polluted.[4][1]

The name of the harbour was officially altered to Te Awarua-o-Porirua Harbour in August 2014.[6]


The Pauatahanui Inlet is used for windsurfing, but is not recommended for swimming.[1]

North of Paremata are the swimming beaches of Plimmerton and Karehana Bay. The southern end of Plimmerton Beach is also exposed to northwesterly winds for windsurfing.[1]

There are also fishing spots at Tokaapapa Reef (or Grandfather rocks) off Plimmerton, Mana Island and Hunters Bank. However, weather conditions can change quickly and can be hazardous.[1]

Guardians of Pāuatahanui Inlet[edit]

A community group, the Guardians of Pāuatahanui Inlet, was set up in 1991 as a registered charity,[7] to undertake tasks such as cleaning up around the inlet. They also run photographic competitions.[8]


The Pauatahanui arm of the Porirua Harbour with the entrance at the extreme left and Pauatahanui at the extreme right
Porirua Harbour viewed from Camborne. Mana Island is in the centre; Plimmerton to the right. Pauatahanui inlet to the left.
Porirua Harbour (bottom center) and Pauatahanui Inlet (top center) viewed from the ISS.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Te Awarua-o-Porirua Harbour". gw.govt.nz. Wellington Regional Council.
  2. ^ J. Irwin (1976) Morphological stability of pauatahanui inlet, porirua harbour, New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 10:4, 641-650, doi:10.1080/00288330.1976.9515646
  3. ^ George Eiby (1990) Changes to Porirua Harbour in about 1855 : historical tradition and geological evidence, Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 20:2, 233-248, doi:10.1080/03036758.1990.10426727
  4. ^ a b Hoy, D.G. Rails out of the Capital (NZRLS, 1970) pp. 70,71
  5. ^ "Porirua Harbour Basin c1956 (images)". Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand. 1956.
  6. ^ "NZGB decisions". Land Information New Zealand. August 2014. Archived from the original on 21 November 2015. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  7. ^ "Guardians of Pāuatahanui Inlet". NZBN. Retrieved 24 October 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ "Caring for the inlet". Guardians of Pāuatahanui Inlet. Retrieved 8 October 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

External links[edit]