News | 21 December 2023
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Caring for our beaches and coast this summer

Te Whanganui-a-Tara is an amazing harbour. From the sea to the dunes, it's an ecosystem that supports wildlife and their habitats despite ever-changing conditions and shifting tides.

Wellington hills and beach with a wharf in the middle.

While making the most of the city's beaches and harbour this summer, think about how you can care for these spaces.

Rock pools

The rugged coastline of Wellington is graced with rock pools. These miniature marine worlds are teeming with life, from colourful anemones and resilient barnacles to elusive crabs. What's truly remarkable is their adaptability – these organisms thrive despite pounding waves and shifting tides. One cool spot to enjoy these wonders is Scorching Bay.

Seaweed forests

These underwater ecosystems, once thriving, are essential for marine biodiversity. They provide refuge and sustenance to countless species, benefiting fisheries and maintaining a healthy marine food chain. Seaweed forests also serve as a natural defence against coastal erosion, bolstering the city's resilience to rising sea levels and storms. They absorb carbon too, so helps with our response to climate change. There is some amazing work Love Rimu Rimu  are doing to regenerate Wellington’s seaweed forests. Check out the amazing diversity of seaweeds if you go snorkelling this summer at the Island Bay Snorkel Trail.


Another coastal taonga (treasure) are the few remaining sand dunes. These dynamic and critically endangered habitats are shaped by the relentless forces of wind and tides. They are vital for coastal protection, providing a buffer against erosion and storm surges. Native dune plants like pingao and spinifex are very resilient and stabilise the dunes and provide habitat for unique wildlife. Check out some of the sand dune restoration efforts at Island Bay.

Driftwood on the beach with the ocean in the background.

Ten tips to keep te taiao (our environment) thriving while enjoying the coast:

  • Keep the beach plastic-and rubbish-free by cleaning up after yourself and picking up any litter you see.
  • To help us in our Predator-Free efforts, don't leave food unattended or behind – rats love nothing more than a free meal.
  • Keep to paths to avoid trampling or riding over dunes and vegetation, and to keep safe the plants and animals that call these important coastal ecosystems home.
  • Use reef-friendly sunscreen; choose sunscreen that does not contain harmful chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate, which can harm corals and other marine life.
  • Beachcombing is fun – you can search for seashells or even the vibrant pāua shells. But remember shells are an important part of the habitat, so exercise restraint when it comes to collecting.
  • To keep birds safe, walk your dog on a lead unless you are in a dog off-leash area – and pick up after it.
  • If you fish, follow the rules and release undersized or non-target species. Make sure you don't leave any equipment behind.
  • If you're boating, follow speed limits and slow down to avoid disturbing marine life, especially in sensitive areas.
  • Animals need their personal space – keep a respectful distance from any seals or nesting birds.
  • If you see any injured manu (birds)or marine life, or poaching events, report it to the DOC Hotline at 0800 362 468. You can also contact the Council at 04 499 4444.
A beach and ocean with boats surrounding a small island in the background.

Can’t make it to water but would like to be astonished just the same? This video of Taputeranga Marine Reserve brings marine life ashore!

The Friends of Taputeranga Marine Reserve have launched a self-guided video tour of the reserve by dotting QR codes along Wellington’s South Coast. Anyone with a phone can watch short videos of the reserve’s rocky reefs and shipwrecks, dive into the aquatic wonderland of Mermaid’s Kitchen and experience an eerie dive at Princess Bay by night.