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Bream Bay

Bream Bay is located in Northland Region
Bream Bay
Bream Bay
Location in Northland Region
Country New Zealand
Region Northland
Territorial authority Whangarei District
Pre 1989 Whangarei County
 • Total 2,073
Time zone UTC+12 (NZST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC+13 (NZDT)

Bream Bay is an embayment and area south-east of Whangārei, on the east coast of New Zealand. The bay runs from Bream Head, at the mouth of Whangārei Harbour, 22 kilometres south to the headland of Bream Tail, east of Langs Beach and north of Mangawhai. It was named by Captain James Cook. The Bream Bay area includes the towns of Ruakākā, One Tree Point and Waipu. A group of nature reserve islands lie outside Bream Bay: the Hen and Chicken Islands and Sail Rock.



Bream Bay was named by Captain James Cook after noticing that the bay's waters were populated with a vast number of bream, although it is now thought he was mistaken with snapper. He also named, in the same vein, Bream Head and Bream Tail at the northern and southern ends of the bay.



Ruakākā area is made up of Ruakākā Beach, Ruakākā Township and Marsden Point. Ruakākā has seen development due to its proximity to the expansion of the country's only oil refinery at Marsden Point during the 1980s. A timber processing plant at Marsden Point has further stimulated growth.

One Tree Point

One Tree Point, once considered part of Ruakākā, has peeled away from the Ruakākā township as it begins to grow. Along with its off-spring area of Takahiwai, they are positioned along Whangārei Harbour. One Tree Point is a fast-growing community catering to the lifestyle blocks of the northern Bream Bay area. One Tree Point is made up of One Tree Point, Marsden Cove, Takahiwai and the eastern blocks of Marsden Point. Access is by the Port Marsden road via Ruakaka or by marine access.


Waipu is the south-most and largest township. It features a variety of attractions ranging from surf beaches, caves, waterfalls to memorable dining. Waipu is fast gaining international immigrants and is seen to be Bream Bay's only chance at a kept rural community, with the socioeconomic growth been delivered by Ruakaka and One Tree Point. Access is gained from State Highway 1 or through back roads from Maungaturoto or Wellsford.

Waipu is situated up the river from the coast, at the last navigable place for larger boats. The Waipu Boat Club is now situated at the place where boats used to unload when the coast and river were the main transport links. However it has strong coastal links with Waipu Cove 8 km away and Uretiti Beach 5 km away. Settled by Highland Scots immigrants under the charismatic Rev Norman McLeod in the 1850s, it still has a strong Scottish tradition with its own pipe band, and the Waipu Museum telling the story of the migration.


The Hen & Chicken Islands and Sail Rock are nature reserve islands just off the coast of Bream Bay. They have no human inhabitants.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
2006 1,494 —    
2013 1,641 +1.35%
2018 2,073 +4.78%

The statistical area of Bream Bay, which covers 235 square kilometres between Waipu and Whangārei Harbour but excludes the settlements of Waipu, Ruakaka, Marsden Point and One Tree Point, had a population of 2,073 at the 2018 New Zealand census, an increase of 432 people (26.3%) since the 2013 census, and an increase of 579 people (38.8%) since the 2006 census. There were 738 households. There were 1,080 males and 990 females, giving a sex ratio of 1.09 males per female. Of the total population, 441 people (21.3%) were aged up to 15 years, 294 (14.2%) were 15 to 29, 996 (48.0%) were 30 to 64, and 342 (16.5%) were 65 or older. Figures may not add up to the total due to rounding.

Ethnicities were 87.6% European/Pākehā, 21.3% Māori, 3.0% Pacific peoples, 2.5% Asian, and 1.7% other ethnicities. People may identify with more than one ethnicity.

The percentage of people born overseas was 13.9, compared with 27.1% nationally.

Although some people objected to giving their religion, 60.6% had no religion, 27.8% were Christian, and 3.3% had other religions.

Of those at least 15 years old, 267 (16.4%) people had a bachelor or higher degree, and 315 (19.3%) people had no formal qualifications. The median income was $30,300. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 768 (47.1%) people were employed full-time, 279 (17.1%) were part-time, and 57 (3.5%) were unemployed.


The region has warm humid summers and mild winters. Typical summer temperatures range from 22 °C to 26 °C (72 °F to 79 °F). Ground frosts are virtually unknown. The hottest months are January and February. Typical annual rainfall for the region is 1500–2000 mm. Winds year-round are predominantly from the southwest.


Schools are Bream Bay College (in Ruakākā), Ruakaka School, One Tree Point School and Waipu Primary School.

Attractions and landmarks

  • The Cove Cafe, Waipu Cove
  • Waipu Caves
  • Waipu Museum
  • Waipu Pizza Barn
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