Matapouri Bay is on the Tutukaka Coast. This lovely beach was recommended to us by a local kiwi because at certain times of day you can get access to Mermaid Pools. I was instantly intrigued by the name. We were told there was a hike from Matapouri Bay to access the pools, and they were worth visiting because the pools were revealed when the tide went out and you could potential see different marine life.
We were heading north to the northland of New Zealand, so stopping at Matapouri Bay was along our route anyway. We parked our campervan along a side street and walked a short distance to the beach. It was a beautiful day, and the beach was pretty busy with people enjoying the New Zealand summer sun and stunning, white sand beach.
We had been given directions on how to access Mermaid pools from the beach. We strolled along the beach, dipping our toes in the water and excitedly exploring the black rocks that seem spastically scattered along the way.
We could see there were other people moving in the same direction as us. We had not looked to check the tide schedule. The pools are only exposed during low tide, and felt lucky that the time we arrived seemed to be the right time to visit.
We had been told that there was a slight hike to get back to the pools. As we started to hike through the grass and up the hill on the northern side of the bay, I began to notice the incline rapidly increasing. The hike became very steep, and the path was worn smooth from traffic. There was rope tide-up and placed at difficult sections of the hike. The hillside soon shifted from exposed grass to jungle. We were walking through palm trees and bush most of the time.
At the peak of the hill you can look out and see the vast Pacific Ocean. Now that we were at the top though we had steep decline towards Mermaid Pools.
There is a large, black rock shelf that becomes exposed when the tide recedes. The rock has many tide pools varying in sizes which become apparent as you make your descent.
Casey and I enjoyed looking into the pools to see if we could find any marine life. Pictured above is a large crab we found. There were several other smaller crabs we enjoying watching. We also were able to see starfish, snails, and pāua.
I felt relaxed as I watched the waves crash up and over the rock. The water pulsed through the tidal pools and the sound of the waves was tranquil. As I watched the waves, the movement and sound was similar to breathing – the ocean was inhaling and exhaling with every crash into the rocks.
We could spot boats and some people in kayaks out at sea. There were some people fishing off the side of the rock at Mermaid pools.
The area was quite busy. Tourist were relaxing and swimming in the deeper pools. Casey and myself jumped into a deep pool to cool off.
After enjoying our time at Mermaid Pools, we hiked back over the steep hill to Matapouri Bay. The hike back became more difficult as more people had been using the trail and parts were now wet and slippery. I ended up slipping and sliding on the way down and was thankful that the rope had been put up.
This lovely place was extraordinary to visit, but has been seeing an increase in tourism and when we visited it was starting to show. When beginning to write this post I learned that Mermaid Pools had been closed indefinitely due to tourist “rubbish.” (read more here)
A rāhui (cultural closure/prohibition) has been enacted to protect Mermaid Pools from any further damage. The indefinite closure has been set by a local Māori subtribe with the intent to let the delicate ecosystem heal.
I understand that sharing our own travel experiences to Mermaid Pools could contribute to the increase in tourist attraction. It was already easy to see that the land and pools were wearing down from tourist traffic. I do hope that people are able to one day enjoy the beauty of Mermaid Pools, but for now tourist can enjoy the beach at Matapouri or its’ neighbor beach at Whales Bay via a short hike.
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