Explore Mangawhai

Comprised of Mangawhai Heads, Mangawhai Village and surrounding areas, Mangawhai sits at the south west border of the Kaipara Harbour. To the North are Ruakaka and Whangarei and to the South, Matakana and Warkworth.

The area is remarkable with a diversity of elements including a naturally occurring harbour, sand spit and ocean frontage.

The sand spit of dramatic dunes forms a protected channel of water connecting the Heads and Village with outlying areas.

The harbour has a boat ramp and jetty with a long stretch of white sandy beach. One of Mangawhai’s three campsites sits directly at the harbour water’s edge, with a white sandy beach and calm water that the whole family will love.

There is a deeper water channel within the estuary and being tidal, strong currents provide a good work out for the sport swimmer or kayaker. 

The harbour is bordered by large sand dunes, part of which are DOC-protected for the rare Fairy Tern, Caspian and White Fronted Terns, Banded Dotterels, and Variable Oyster Catchers. The dunes can be visited with DOC notices to guide you away from nesting sites.

The often photographed Crocodile Rocks border the surf beach providing a natural edge to the harbour outlet to the ocean. Rich in rock pools, backed by sand dunes and bush, with access to cliff top walks, the surf beach will entertain the whole family.


Rich in seafood and fertile soil, Mangawhai has a strong Maori history. Descended from the iwi of Ngati Whatua, the hapu of Te Uri o Hau has become the iwi of Kaipara. Te Uri o Hau descends from Haumoewaarangi through Hakiputatomuri, who is the tribe’s founding ancestor, and includes people who affiliate to nga marae tuturu: Otamatea, Waikaretu, Oruawharo, Arapaoa (William R Wright, Manawhenua Report, Te Uri o Hau Wahapu o Kaipara, December 1996).

In the early 1800s, European settlers collected Kauri gum and timber, transforming the bush into farmland for cattle and sheep.

Brimming with creativity

It is during the last 50 years that Mangawhai has undergone its latest renaissance, becoming a haven for artists of all kinds. Ceramics, painting, sculpture, food and music play integral roles in the community culture and spirit of Mangawhai.

Food art doesn’t get much better than Bennetts of Mangawhai - master chocolatier - and their architectural building is another art form in itself. Many of the buildings in the area are architectural pieces, from the Mangawhai Tavern and early Bach designs to the Mangawhai Museum. 

The stream of the stingray

Early Maori named Mangawhai for its “stream of the stingray” and stingray can frequently be seen in the estuary and harbour.

References to the stingray and sea life can be seen in the architecture of the Museum building, the local Te Whai Bay wine label, many of the cafes and features strongly in the local art.