Nature and conservation
Over 180 fish species have been recorded on the south coast. Octopus, rock lobsters, crabs and starfish are common. Anemones, sea sponges and sea squirts thrive. There's plenty of beaches and rocky shores to explore at low tide.
No two days are the same at Taputeranga - the weather is changeable and the water churns through Cook Strait, creating a moody and complex undersea environment.
The reserve lies along Wellington's exposed southern coastline. It is swept by strong tidal currents bringing nutrients from Cook Strait, and pounded by swells from the southern ocean. This creates ideal growing conditions for seaweeds, particularly the large browns.
Kelp plants up to 20 m tall grow in sheltered places such as Island Bay. About 400 species of seaweed have been recorded within the reserve.
Drifting in and out of the seaweeds you will see butterfish, blue moki, marblefish and smaller pickers such as spotty, banded and scarlet wrasse. Long finger reefs separated by gravel filled channels run offshore.
Buses run regularly from central Wellington to Island Bay, Houghton Bay and nearby Lyall Bay. There's a walking track along the coastline.
Know before you go
Fishing and the removal or disturbance of any living or non-living marine resource is prohibited, except as necessary for permitted monitoring or research. If you come across any research equipment, do not disturb it. Do not feed the fish (this disrupts their behaviour).
There are also penalties for:
- Discharging toxic substances or pollutants.
- Disturbing wildlife such as marine mammals and birds.
- Wilfully damaging marine life or the natural features of the reserve.
- Building an unauthorised structure.
- Using anything that you know has come from the reserve.
- Failing to give your correct name and address to a ranger.
- Threatening or bribing a ranger.
If you see people taking anything from the reserve, report the activity to 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468). Also report pollution, oil spills, navigation hazards and dangerous boating to Greater Wellington Regional Council's Environmental Protection Hotline (0800 496 734).