Long Bay Beach
PHOTO: Russell Street | Creative Commons

Introduction

Just 20 km north of Auckland lies the Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve. The reserve protects a variety of coastal habitats: sandy beaches, rocky reefs, estuarine mudflats and mangroves.

Place overview

Activities

  • Bird and wildlife watching
  • Boating
  • Diving and snorkelling
  • Kayaking and canoeing
  • Swimming
  • Marine reserves
    Protect our marine reserves

    They are special places that protect the species and habitats within them.

    • No fishing of any kind
    • Don't take or kill marine life
    • Don't remove or disturb any marine life or materials
    • Don't feed fish - it disturbs their natural behaviour
    • Call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) to report any illegal activity

Find things to do Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve

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Bird and wildlife watching

Oystercatchers, black-fronted terns and gulls are common at Long Bay. The endangered NZ dotterel nests on sand spits near the Okura Walkway.

If you're lucky, you might spot pods of orca or dolphins which are seen a few times each year.

Boating

Boats are allowed within the marine reserve. Take care not to damage marine life by dragging anchors. Maritime Safety Rules apply: the maximum speed for all watercraft is 5 knots within 50m from any swimmer and within 200m from the shore.

There is no boat ramp at Long Bay. The nearest boat ramp is down Rock Isle Road, Torbay, about 5 minutes drive south of the marine reserve. There is also a boat ramp at the end of Okura River Road, on the Okura River.

Child/family friendly activities

Tiger shell, Long Bay Marine Reserve. Photo copyright: Kim Westerskov (DOC USE ONLY).
Tiger shells can be seen at Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve

The Long Bay Regional Park runs adjacent to part of the marine reserve and provides easy access to the water. The park is a great place to bring the kids for the day.

Take the kids rock hopping to neighbouring Granny’s or Pohutakawa bays. Explore the rock pools: look out for colourful anemones, starfish, crabs and small fish. Be aware of coastal erosion from the cliffs.

Diving and snorkelling

The reefs at either end of Long Bay are the best place to snorkel. Look out for large snapper, rays and many reef fish species amongst the seaweed and rocky ledges.

Kayaking and canoeing

You can launch your kayak at Long Bay and paddle north to explore Karepiro Bay and the Okura estuary and river. If you paddle south, you can stop off at one of North Shore’s many great beaches such as Browns Bay or Mairangi Bay.

Surf at sunrise at Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve. Photo: Art Polkanov.
Surf at sunrise at Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve

Specialist activities

Skim boarding is popular at Long Bay as the beach provides ideal conditions.

You can also kite surf at Long Bay but take care around swimmers. Note that Maritime Safety Rules apply to kite surfers.

Surfing and swimming

If there’s a big swell on the east coast there are occasionally waves in the Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve.

Long Bay Beach is the most popular and easily accessible place to swim. Granny’s and Pohutakwa bays are other good options. In the peak of summer lifeguards patrol Long Bay.

The upper reaches of the Okura estuary and river are mudflats and not as suitable for swimming.

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    About this place

    Nature and conservation

    Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve. Photo: Carol and Greg Smith.
    Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve

    The Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve protects a stretch of coastline on the east coast just north of Auckland city.

    Underwater view of Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve.
    Underwater view of Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve

    Establishment

    The Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve was established in 1995 largely due to a community driven effort led by the East Coast Bays Coastal Protection Society.

    The Society saw the need to have the area protected in its natural state as a typical slice of the Hauraki Gulf. Its importance as an educational resource was also recognised with the Marine Education and Recreation Centre (MERC) based at Long Bay.

    Monitoring at the Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve.

    Diverse habitats

    The shores and waters of the Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve are typical of those of the relatively sheltered inner Hauraki Gulf. There is a diversity of coastal habitats that includes the sandy beaches of Long Bay and Karepiro Bay, the rocky reefs off the two headlands at either end of Long Bay, and the sandflats and mudflats of the Okura River and estuary.

    While Toroa Point at the southern end of Long Bay is 'moderately exposed', the Okura River estuary, in contrast, becomes increasingly sheltered as it extends inland for some four kilometres, and its muddy waters host mangrove forests and saltmarsh.

    Getting there

    The reserve is about 20 km from the centre of Auckland, and easily accessible by both public or private transport.

    There is road access to several points on the Okura Estuary, the Okura Walkway and Stillwater. Excellent public access and car parking facilities are found at Long Bay Regional Park.

    Know before you go

    • Fishing of any kind is an offence.
    • The taking or disturbing of any marine life, including shellfish and seaweeds, is also an offence.
    • It is an offence to take any part of the sea floor, including rocks and shells, from the reserve, or to erect any structure.
    • Do not feed the fish. This disturbs their natural behaviour and is an offence.
    • It is an offence for boats or jet skis to exceed five knots within 200 m of the mainland or a dive flag, or within 30 m of a boat or person in the water.
    • Take your rubbish away with you - observe the Department's 'Pack in-pack out' policy. Rubbish disposal at the reserve is very difficult.
    • If you come across any field or research equipment within the reserve, do not disturb it.

    Non-compliance with these conditions may result in prosecution.

    Dogs

    Auckland Council manages the foreshore and parkland of the Long Bay Regional Park.

    • Dogs are not permitted in the park at any time.
    • Dogs are permitted on the beach below the mean high water mark up to Vaughan Stream as follows:
      • During daylight saving dogs are allowed before 10 am and after 6:30 pm.
      • Outside daylight saving dogs are allowed all day.

    Read more about dog access in Auckland

    Help us stop offenders

    If you see people taking fish or other marine life within the marine reserve, report this to the DOC conservation emergency hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).

    Total fire ban on Hauraki Gulf islands

    There is a total fire ban on islands in the Hauraki Gulf. The exceptions are Waiheke, Great Barrier, Kawau and Rakino, if you have a permit. Check the Auckland Council website.

    Contacts

    Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland Visitor Centre
    Phone:   +64 9 3796476
    Address:   Shed 19
    137 Princes Wharf
    Auckland 1010
    Email:   aucklandvc@doc.govt.nz
    Full office details
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