Mahia Peninsula

The Mahia Peninsula is located on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island, between the cities of Napier and Gisborne.


The peninsula is 21.7 kilometres long and 11.3 kilometres wide rising to its highest point at Rahuimokairoa reaching about 403 metres above sea level. Mahia was initially an island which over time, has had a sand bar join it to the North Island. Whales often strand on the shallow sand build up.

Early whalers had a whaling station on the farm 'Kini Kini", sheltered by 'Long Point' on the west coast of the peninsula. Portland Island ('Waikawa') was named by Kahungunu when he visited there to look for fresh drinking water and only found salt water. Waikawa means 'sour water'. Waikawa is a small island off the southern tip of Mahia Peninsula with an unmanned lighthouse. The name Mahia means 'indistinct sound'.


The area is a popular seaside resort. The most important activity of the area is tourism. Sheep and cattle farms are still an important part for the local community. Mahia is famous for its surf, scuba diving, hiking, fishing, rugby and great hospitality. Many tourists stay in Napier, Hastings or Wairoa and travel to Mahia Peninsula for the day.

In Maori legend, Whatonga who came to New Zealand in search of his grandfather Toi, settled at Mahia. The community these days is still generally a mix of Maori and European. The local Maori tribe are known as Ngāti Rongomaiwahine.

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