Rangaunu Harbour

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Rangaunu Harbour
Location Northland Region
Coordinates 34°56′S 173°17′E / 34.933°S 173.283°E / -34.933; 173.283Coordinates: 34°56′S 173°17′E / 34.933°S 173.283°E / -34.933; 173.283
Ocean/sea sources South Pacific Ocean
Basin countries New Zealand
Max. length 13 kilometres (8.1 mi)
Max. width 9.5 kilometres (5.9 mi)
Surface area 115 square kilometres (44 sq mi)
References [1]

Rangaunu Harbour is a shallow harbour in the far north of New Zealand. It is situated on the east coast at the base of the Aupouri Peninsula. The name in Māori means "To pull out a shoal of fish".[2] With an area of 115 square kilometres (44 sq mi) it is the fifth-largest harbour in New Zealand.[3]


The harbour entrance is a 2-kilometre (1.2 mi) wide channel to Rangaunu Bay to the north. The eastern side of the harbour is a 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) wide tombolo separating it from Doubtless Bay and connecting the hillier Karikari Peninsula to the mainland. The small settlement of Rangiputa sits on the eastern side of the harbour entrance, and Kaimaumau is located on the western shore about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) southwest of the entrance. Unahi, at the mouth of the Awanui River, has a wharf and a fish processing plant which is now closed.[4]

An extensive wetland, the Waihuahua swamp lies to the west of the harbour, north of Kaimaumau.

The harbour has extensive areas of mangroves, tidal sand flats and areas of eelgrass, plus several small islands, with deeper channels between.

A number of rivers flow into the harbour. Clockwise from the entrance, these are:


Rangaunu harbour contains about 15% of the mangrove habitat in New Zealand.[3] It is a habitat of international significance for migratory wading birds, with 10,000 birds of approximately 70 species using the harbour in the autumn. Birds observed to nest in the area include NZ dotterels, variable oystercatchers, black-backed gulls, red-billed gulls, white-fronted terns, Caspian terns, black shags, little shags, pied shags, pied stilts, white-faced herons, ducks and swans.[3]

Dolphins, killer whales,[5] and occasionally humpback whales[6][7] visit the harbor. Other cetacean species such as Bryde's whales, sperm whales, pilot whales, and false killer whales are known to come into Rangaunu Bay and around Karikari Peninsula, but very few whales actually appear into Rangaunu Harbour. The harbor environment is an ideal habitat for southern right whales,[8] and Rangaunu harbor might once have been a resting/calving ground for these coast-hugging whales.

Rangaunu harbor hosts a population of green sea turtles that are seasonal migrants into the harbor water regularly.[9] Whale sharks have been seen in the harbor with slow but increasing regularities.[10]


  1. ^ New Zealand 1:50000 Topographic Map series sheet AU26 – Waiharara
  2. ^ Wises New Zealand Guide, 7th Edition, 1979
  3. ^ a b c Brenda Hay & Coral Grant. "Marine Resources in Tai Tokerau". pp. Appendix 14: Rangaunu Harbour. Retrieved 4 March 2011. 
  4. ^ "Unahi Wharf". 
  5. ^ Mtait. 2014 Diver films encounter with pod of orcas. The Chronicle. retrieved on 03 June 2014
  6. ^ Hicker R. "Photo: Rangaunu Bay New Zealand". p. Rolf Hicker - Animal, Nature & Travel Photography. Retrieved 2015-02-17. 
  7. ^ http://bigangryfish.tv/this-amazing-place
  8. ^ Torres G.L., Compton T., Fromant A., 2013 Habitat models of southern right whales, Hector's dolphin, and killer whales in New Zealand. NIWA. retrieved on 03 June 2014
  9. ^ Szabo M., 2011 Green turtle population in Rangaunu Harbour - DOC. BirdingNZ. retrieved on 03 June 2014
  10. ^ Duffy C., Atkinson P., 2004 Whale sharks in - New Zealand waters. Dive New Zealand. Department of Conservation. retrieved on 03 June 2014