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Parengarenga Harbour

Parengarenga harbour
Parengarenga Harbour
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Parengarenga Harbour is New Zealand’s northernmost harbour, situated on the east coast near the northern tip of the North Island. Parengarenga Harbour is aptly named after the corrugated sandbanks that form on the seabed at its narrow entrance. “Parenga” means a sandbank, with “Parengarenga” meaning a lot of sandbanks. The huge volumes of tidal water that flow in and out of the harbour’s narrow entrance four times a day create these banks. The inland water area behind this entrance makes Parengarenga one of New Zealand’s largest harbours.

The harbour is shallow, and has numerous long winding mangrove-lined creeks. It is dominated by the Kokota Spit which is pure white silica sand and provides a remarkable visible feature for passing tourists.

The harbour has an extensive fringe of mangrove forest. Inside the mangrove zone, there are tidal sandflats mostly covered in eelgrass and supporting abundant invertebrates which provide a prey base for the large fish and bird populations.

Shorebirds dominate the birdlife of the harbour, and for them the tidal flats are the main feeding habitat. These flats serve as a wintering area for both international and internal migratory species. Large numbers of northern migrants collect at the Far North harbours in the autumn before migrating to Siberia or Alaska, while Parengarenga is the first landfall in New Zealand during the southward migration of Bar-tailed Godwit.

High-tide roosting areas occur at many sites, but especially at Kokota Spit and in the paddocks of Paua and Steamer Point.

Parengarenga Harbour was identified as a "Site of Special Wildlife Interest" and ranked as "outstanding" by the Fauna Survey Unit of the New Zealand Wildlife Service. This is a nationwide wildlife habitat ranking system officially recognised by the Department of Conservation. The site is being investigated for possible listing as a Ramsar Site.

The harbour is the traditional and spiritual source of the Ngati Kuri people. It is the traditional food source of these people, and contains many wahi tapu and burial sites.

(page last updated  9 July 2011)