Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve
Located in the Auckland region
IntroductionJust 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.
Find things to do and places to stay Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve
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.
Post observations of species you see here on iNaturalist.
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 50 m from any swimmer and within 200 m 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.
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.
We recommended visitors swim or dive in pairs. Snorkelers, particularly those who are not strong swimmers or used to swimming in the open sea, are strongly advised to wear a wetsuit or life jacket, or take another flotation device such as a boogie board when snorkelling in the marine reserve. Beginners should keep near the shore.
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.
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.
Swim/snorkel when conditions are safe
If you are not confident in the water, be realistic about your skills and swim only during calm weather or enjoy this place from land.
Check the surf forecast for Long Bay and pay close attention to the wind speed and swell height: Long Bay Surf Forecast. This is a surf forecast and the red/orange/green surfboard rating is not relevant to safe swimming, snorkelling or diving.
Auckland Council manages the foreshore and parkland of the Long Bay Regional Park.
Long Bay Beach adjacent to Long Bay Regional Park
- Dogs are prohibited on the Northern Beach areas, north of Vaughan Stream at all times and not only during breeding season.
- Dogs are permitted throughout the year (with restrictions) on the Southern Beach Areas, south of Vaughan Stream.
- Full details of dog access rules at Long Bay Regional Park
Other beaches and marine reserve foreshore
To protect wildlife dogs are prohibited in the following areas:
- Okura Bush Walkway (including Stillwater section)
- Okura Bush Scenic Reserve or adjacent foreshore
- Weiti Estuary Chenier Spits
- Crown foreshore of the Weiti River
- Karepiro Bay
- Okura Beach Marginal strip
Auckland Council's policy on dogs (PDF, 1,145K) – see page 14, section 6
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. There are sometimes exceptions for Waiheke, Great Barrier, Kawau and Rakino which Auckland Council look after.
The Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve protects a stretch of coastline on the east coast just north of Auckland city.
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.
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.