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Tairua Harbour

Tairua Harbour is a tidal lagoon-type estuary located on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula. The harbour has a total area of 6km2, with intertidal sand and mudflats making up approximately 51% of its area. The catchment area for the harbour is 280 km2. It is sheltered from the sea by the Pauanui sand spit and Paku Mountain.

Tairua Harbour is recognised as an Area of Significant Conservation Value in the Waikato Regional Coastal Plan and is known to support important ecological communities. The harbour has high recreational use and is used for commercial and recreational harvesting of seafood.

Tairua Harbour is currently under increasing pressure from human activities within the harbour (marinas, jetties), around the harbour margin (urbanisation) and further into the surrounding catchment (forestry, land modification/farming).

The main river entering the estuary is Tairua River. During high rainfall events flash flooding can occur 3-5 times per year. Vegetated habitats occupy around 39 per cent of the entire area of Tairua Harbour. Seagrass beds make up more than half the total vegetation cover, with mangroves and saltmarsh also found in the harbour.

Important ecological communities include marine invertebrates, shellfish beds and a range of inshore fish species (snapper, sand and yellowbelly flounder, kahawai, trevally and parore). Tairua Harbour also provides habitat for rare and threatened wading and coastal bird species (New Zealand dotterel, banded dotterel and reef heron), and important whitebait spawning habitat.

The harbour is a significant site to Hauraki Iwi.

Estuary summary

What makes my estuary unique?

Explore the characteristics of this estuary


Estuary characteristics

  • Significant features
    • water visibility high, almost tropical
    • very sandy estuary
    • estuary mouth width only ~280m
  • Total area
    600 hectares
  • Total shoreline length
    35 km
  • Tide
    Tide range (m) (spring/mean/neap) - 1.71 / 1.49 / 1.23
  • Key rivers
    • Tairua River

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.

Tairua 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

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Monitored sites 5

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