Waitangi Regional Park extends around 5 kilometres along the coast between Awatoto and Haumoana, and is haven for wildlife and sportspeople alike, and is the location for the Atea a Rangi star compass.
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Along the coast between Awatoto and Haumoana, Waitangi links Tukituki, Ngaruroro and Tūtaekurī Rivers, and Karamū Stream-Clive rivers and coastal reserves. The park covers an area of 300 ha along around 5km of a narrow strip of coastline.
This part of the coast is an important ecosystem, and birds you might spot include white heron, royal spoonbill, godwits, and gannets, and you might smell or spot a seal or two as they often come inshore.
The lower parts of the rivers are popular for fishing, whitebaiting, rowing, waka ama, kayaking, jet boating, jet skiing, and kite surfing.
The Waitangi Estuary area was an early arrival site for both Māori and pākehā. The Star Compass, Ātea a Rangi, symbolises the navigational skills of early settlers. On Waitangi Day, 6 February, a popular festival on the Clive River features a re-enactment of the arrival of the first European settlers.
Download this great guide about all of our parks including Waitangi, with directions on how to get to them and lots handy information.
Because the park stretches along the coast, there are a number of access points and parking areas for vehicles:
Cycle/walk - The Hawke's Bay Trails run through the park to Clifton, and connects with Hastings, Napier and Pākōwhai Park. See Google map below.
The Ātea a Rangi Star Compass stands right on the edge of the coast.
This dramatic circle of pou (posts), stones and a whaharoa (gateway) has been developed by the Ātea a Rangi Educational Trust and installed through 2017.
Local carvers have created the pou, representing the points of the compass. They worked with the Regional Council's open spaces team to enhance this important historical part of the coast.
Information signs at the star compass display information on:
See more about the enhancement project here and in our video below.
In 2017, Ātea a Rangi was constructed as one of several elements in the Waitangi Estuary enhancement at Waitangi Regional Park. The overarching objective of the enhancement is to promote respectful use of the Waitangi estuary.
Ātea a Rangi was the idea of Te Matau-a-Māui Voyaging Trust who subsequently partnered with the Regional Council to deliver the project.
Ātea a Rangi Educational Trust was then established to administer and maintain Ātea a Rangi under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Regional Council, who maintains the space on an ongoing basis for the community to enjoy.
It is appropriate that Ātea a Rangi Educational Trust is acknowledged and/ or consulted with by tourism operators.
Across the road from the star compass entry is the Horseshoe Wetland which is home to many wading birds. Access is from the carpark, under the bridges and along the stopbank.
A new wetland has been constructed which was finished in 2019. A partnership approach is funding the construction - project partners are Te Wai Mauri Trust (which has obtained Te Wai Māori funding), Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Inc, Napier Port and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council which is managing the project. The new 15 hectare wetland (currently un-named) will provide even more habitat for fish, birds and whitebait spawning in this highly valuable biodiversity 'hot spot' area.
The area around Waitangi Regional Park is rich in culture, history and nature.
Fittingly, the northern end has been transformed into a gateway icon for Napier and Hastings communities and you can view this video to see what has been done in this scenic space.
Waitangi ranks within the top 10 wetlands in the region that require protection and enhancement as determined by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council. This area provides a variety of wetland and coastal habitats that support a significant population of bird species. It connects with the nearby Tukituki Estuary. The restoration of some of the wetland areas now is helping to provide habitats for seabirds, water fowl, fish, insects and plants along this coastline.
The estuary initially linked the Ngaruroro and Tukituki river mouths and in the late 1800’s a small ferry boat transported people and goods across the rivers. Significant changes have occurred since then as a result of storms and coastal erosion. The construction of the Heretaunga Plains Flood Control Scheme in the 1960 and 70s further altered the wetlands. Numerous stopbanks and pump stations were constructed along these rivers and Muddy Creek south to the Tukituki River to provide flood protection and drainage to extensive areas of land between Napier and Hastings. While this was important for the economic development of Hawke’s Bay, it did help to destroy an extensive wetland system over this area which is now being restored.
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