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Whangārei Harbour is a drowned river valley system located on the east coast of the Northland peninsula. The harbour is connected to Bream Bay, a large coastal embayment, via an inlet approximately 2.4 km wide, between Marsden Point and Home Point. The main channel extends inland approximately 24 km in a westerly direction and then divides into two arms, the Hātea River in the north and the Mangapai River in the south.

The harbour drains a catchment of 29,507 ha and the land use in the catchment has been heavily modified, with a considerable proportion of the catchment cleared for urban use in the north-west and agricultural land use in the east and south. The city of Whangārei, located on the banks of the Hātea River, is the regional capital of Northland.



Estuary summary

What makes my estuary unique?

Explore the characteristics of this estuary


Estuary characteristics

  • Significant features
    • A number of ecologically significant areas have been identified in the Proposed Regional Plan for Northland:  Mair Bank, Takihiwai, Matakohe Island hores, Portland tidal flats, Onerahi Flats, Paura Bay West, Snake Bank, North-eastern Bays.
    • There are two marine reserves located in the Whangārei Harbour.
  • Total area
    10,000 hectares
  • Key rivers
    • Hātea River
    • Raumanga Stream
    • Waiarohia Stream
    • Otaika Stream
    • Limeburners Creek

What's happening upstream?

See results from monitored river quality sites influencing this estuary

River quality

What's happening upstream?

The physical characteristics and health of estuaries are influenced by the rivers and streams flowing into them. For instance, when it rains the mud and contaminants generated on land can be washed into rivers and eventually flow into the estuary. The health of our rivers and streams can therefore be very important for Estuary Health, and understanding the upstream pressures can help with interpreting estuary monitoring data.

Monitoring is undertaken for a range of river health indicators (e.g., water quality and ecology) in many catchments across the region. Where there are monitored river catchments that influence this estuary, these are shown below. You can click through to view monitoring results from these River Quality sites to see current state and how health has changed over time.

What surrounds my estuary?

See land cover information from monitored catchments that surround this estuary

Land cover

What surrounds my estuary?

The physical characteristics and health of estuaries are influenced by local geography and the way we use our land. This is because estuaries are the receiving environments for many of our land use activities. Land cover information can be used as an indicator of land use, therefore knowing the surrounding land cover can help us understand which pressures might be affecting Estuary Health.

Where there is land cover information available for nearby catchments, these are listed below. These figures show the types of vegetation and built or natural features that surround the estuary margins and the rivers that flow into this estuary. You can click through to the Land Cover topic to see these land cover classes broken down into further detail, and view changes over time.

Hatea River
Raumanga River
Waiarohia Stream
Otaika River

What do the Broad Land Cover Classes mean?

Land cover information on LAWA is grouped into land cover classes at two levels of detail – broad and medium. For this overview we are showing the six broad-level classes for the catchment.

  • Forest

    Inclusive of; indigenous and exotic forest.

  • Scrub / shrubland

    Inclusive of; indigenous and exotic scrub / shrubland.

  • Grassland / other herbaceous vegetation

    Inclusive of; tussock and exotic grassland and other herbaceous vegetation.

  • Cropland

    Inclusive of; cropping / horticulture.

  • Urban / bare / lightly-vegetated surfaces

    Inclusive of; natural bare/lightly-vegetated and artificial bare surfaces, and urban area

  • Water bodies
Monitored sites 4

Select a monitored site from the list below

...retrieving sites.

No sites found.