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New Zealand’s newest marine reserve in Taranaki

Found on a wild section of Taranaki coastline, Parininihi is one of New Zealand’s newest marine reserves.

Parininihi officially joined New Zealand’s marine reserve network in October 2006. The reserve was established to protect marine habitats for science and education, and to provide a safe haven for marine life to live and breed.

Covering an 1800ha section, Parininihi is located in the south eastern-most reaches of the North Taranaki Bight. The reserve is surrounded by the towering White Cliffs, and is constantly thrashed by the Tasman Sea, creating an ever-changing environment.

The reserve is home to a variety of fish species, lobsters, and a collection of rare and exotic sponges. Marine biologist Chris Battershill says the reserve’s Pariokariwa Reef is rated as one of the top sponge spots in the world, with sponges spread in a brightly coloured carpet across the ocean floor.

Ngati Tama iwi (tribe) within Taranaki considers Parininihi culturally and spiritually important. Tangata whenua (people of the land) have traditionally regarded the area as a top fishing spot. Fish species within the reserve include cod, moki, gurnard, john dory, kahawai, terikihi, trevelly and snapper.

Today fishing, netting, spearing, taking or killing of marine life are prohibited
within the reserve. Surfcasting and cultural harvest are permitted in specially
designed areas bordering the protected reserve.

Access to the reserve is via Pukearuhe Rd north of Urenui. Views can be gained from the cliffs at Whitecliffs Walkway beginning at the Pukearuhe Historic Reserve.

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