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Parengarenga Harbour, Kokotu spit attractions and how to get there

  • 3 minutes

Parengarenga Harbour, Northland

The extraordinary beauty of gleaming white silica Kokota Sand Spit and the crystal blue water of Parengarenga harbour is a quiet, remote place where visitors are few and far between.

Parengarenga Harbour white sand shallow beach, Northland, New Zealand
Parengarenga Harbour white sand shallow beach


Parengarenga Harbour is sheltered from the sea by a 10-kilometre-long promontory of pure silica sand, called Kokota Spit. Parengarenga Harbour is an outstanding example of a largely unmodified northern estuary with a subtropical climate.

What does the name Parengarenga Harbour mean?

Parengarenga is named after the corrugated sandbanks located at the harbour entrance. Parenga is a sandbank and Parengarenga means many sandbanks.

There is an enormous volume of tidal flow forcing the sand into harbour sandbars. The harbour is shallow with a lot of freshwater inlets from creeks flowing along mangrove lined waterways. The harbour’s showpiece is the Kokota Spit with its gleaming silica sands.

The native mangroves are home to invertebrates which in turn support fish and extensive bird populations. Parengarenga is one of the world’s critical wintering grounds for migratory bird species who congregate in vast numbers in autumn (April / May). Parengarenga is the first landfall in Aotearoa New Zealand for southward bound migrating birds, especially the bar-tailed godwit.

For mangrove fans you will have enjoyed the short boardwalk at Rawene.

MANGROVES are Aotearoa New Zealand’s sea forest.

In New Zealand, Avicennia marina is the only native mangrove species. It grows in the top half of the North Island, between 34 and 38 degrees south. Avicennia marina was known in New Zealand as Avicennia resinifera until recently; its Māori name is mānawa…  Avicennia marina – Wikipedia. Mangroves are estimated to have arrived in New Zealand on ocean currents approximately 11,000 years ago. Limited frost tolerances influence the latitudinal limit. The largest mangroves in subtropical Northland can reach heights of 10 metres.

White sand of Kokota Sandspit, Parengarenga Harbour, Northland Region, North Island, New Zealand
White sand of Kokota Sandspit, Parengarenga Harbour

The grey mangrove can experience stunted growth in water conditions that are too saline, but thrive to their full height in waters where both salt and freshwater are present. The species can tolerate high salinity by excreting salts through its leaves.


Examine the underside of the NZ mangrove leaves and look for salt deposits on the leaf.

Royal Spoonbill New Zealand bird resident Wairau Lagoon
Royal Spoonbill

For more information about migratory birds check Parengarenga Harbour and Parengarenga Harbour – Kokota Sandpit.

The harbour is a traditional area for the Ngati Kuri (Maori) tribe. It is the traditional food source of these people, and contains many burial sites.


Where does the raw material come from for New Zealand glass manufacturing?

There are vast quantities of white silica sands on the shores of Pārengarenga Harbour, particularly on the southern head. Quantities are shipped to Whangārei and Auckland for glass-making.



Kaitaia to Parengarenga driving directions:

Getting to Parengarenga Harbour is definitely the slow lane. The only roads are at Te Hapua and Paua. From Kaitaia Parengarenga Harbour is 120 km distance with rough gravel roads from Waitiki Landing.

Kaitaia to Waitiki to Te Hapua and Te Pua Reserve. The harbour is at the northern end of Great Exhibition Bay and south-east of Cape Reinga.


Parengarenga weather forecast


Yes, there is a basic camping ground at Te Pua Reserve.

From the Te Kao Store, about 10 km farther north from here you turn east down Paua.

Road, then into Te Pua road. The distinctive sandbar of bright white (pure silica) sand protecting the harbour will come into view.

Campers must be totally independent. You must carry your water and fuel. There is a composting toilet on site.

Traditional ownership (Maori) Pārengarenga Incorporation is a Maori Incorporation with its office based in Te Kao. Te Hāpua is a community on the shores of the Parengarenga Harbour in Northland, New Zealand. Te Hāpua is situated 4 km northwest of Te Pua Reserve Camp.

@Parengarenga Harbour
@Parengarenga Harbour

Facebook page for Te Pua Reserve Camp Ground. The nearby Paua Wharf has recently been upgraded and is wheelchair accessible allowing fishing for everyone.

Parengarenga Harbour is part of Ninety Mile Beach, Cape Reinga and far north attractions. Consider visiting Parengarenga Harbour for the ultimate beach getaway complete with outstanding views of Kokota silica gleaming white sands and prolific bird life. Bucket list Rarawa Beach, a hidden gem, remote and isolated from the crowds. Enjoy the scenic highway  from Ahipara or Kaitaia as you wander the side roads of the far north of Aotearoa New Zealand.


September to mid-May, in January and February carry sunscreen.


Northland has a moderate climate of warm humid summers, relatively mild wet winters, and prevailing south-west winds.

Rainfall varies from mean measurements of 992 mm at Cape Reinga to 1440 mm at Te Paki with higher rainfalls likely in hillier locations.

Winter is the wettest season of the year, but heavy rain may occur at any time, the heaviest rains are associated with easterly wind conditions. The driest months are January and March, with most rain falling in August.

The signpost at the Cape Reinga Lighthouse at the north western most tip of the Aupouri Peninsula, North Island, New Zealand
Cape Reinga Lighthouse

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Travel pack information

For more information about what to see and do in Northland check out Far North & Northland Region.


Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.

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