Rangitikei River mouth coastal reserves
The sand dunes of the Manawatu Region are the finest remaining examples of the parabolic dune systems that once covered a far wider area than one can see today.
Prior to protection much of this dune area was stabilised for farming and forestry practices. Strong westerly winds still create large scale sand movement which is a feature of these dune systems, sometimes creating problems for coastal settlements and roading.
Today much of the pressure on this ecosystem comes from dune buggies and motorbikes and introduced weeds and animals.
Sand dune systems create a unique habitat for a special collection of New Zealand’s native plants and animals. The poisonous katipo spider dwells on this coast line, hiding well away in tunnels on old driftwood or at the base of dune vegetation. Small wetlands which form between dunes as part of the dune building process often have special plants, some so tiny that they are almost impossible to see. Dotterels lay their eggs along the stony flats, often with no protection of a nest, making them highly vulnerable to being trampled or driven on.
There are several different volunteer opportunities available to the public in this area. See volunteer opportunities.
Tawhirihoe Scientific Reserve is just south of the Rangitikei river mouth and Moana Roa is on the northern side. Both are on the coast west of Palmerston North.
For Tangimoana Beach and Tawhirihoe Scientific Reserve, turn off SH1 south of Bulls and head to the small settlement of Tangimoana. On reaching the village the road to the beach turns to the left. Moana Roa is accessed via Bulls out through the small settlement of Scotts Ferry.
Places to stay
There is accommodation at Bulls and a public camping ground at both Scotts Ferry and Tangimoana.
Plan and prepare
As per most locations on the west coast of New Zealand these coastal reserves can experience strong winds at times. Look out for dune buggies and motorbikes in the sand dunes.
Tawhirihoe Scientific Reserve field trip
Guides and commercial tourism providers