Wakapuaka-Delaware Bay


Driving vehicles on the Delaware (Wakapuaka) Estuary, and disturbance of the foreshore or seabed by vehicles, is not permitted by the Nelson Resource Management Plan (NRMP).

The launching or retrieving of recreational or commercial vessels is allowed at designated launching ramps. The main authorised boat launching ramps in the Nelson region are Monaco, the Nelson Marina and Cable Bay. The safest all-weather launch site is the slipway at Nelson Marina.


​From late January 2020, Nelson City Council enforcement officers will be monitoring boat launching activity at Delaware Bay, advising people that under the Nelson Resource Management Plan (NRMP), driving vehicles on the estuary to launch and retrieve boats, and disturbance of the foreshore by vehicles, is not permitted. 

Why does the rule exist?

Delaware (Wakapuaka) Estuary has significant ecological values and is an important spawning area for fish.

The Inlet’s seagrass and cockle beds support a number of commercial and recreational species of fish, particularly in their juvenile stages.
Loss of, or damage to, this important estuary habitat is likely to reduce the variety and number of juvenile fish in the area. Damage to the estuary will also impact on species of shorebird such as the rare banded rail, variable oystercatcher and occasional visitors such as the royal spoonbill.
The rule is intended to ensure the sustainability of local fish populations, and the conservation of this beautiful natural area and its flora and fauna, by preventing damage and disturbance to the plants and animals that live here.

Delaware (Wakapuaka) Bay is also of deep historic and cultural significance. 

The area from Delaware Bay to Glenduan became a taia-pure (traditional fishery reserve) in 2002, established under the Fisheries Act 1993, and is managed by a committee of iwi, community and marine group representatives.
Historically, the Bay is famous for Huria Mātenga’s rescue of the crew of The Delaware, which ran onto rocks at Wakapuaka in September 1863. From pre-European times to today, the estuary has always been an important site for gathering of kai moana within the estuary. It is also an important source for the Māori values of manaakitanga (hospitality) and kaitiakitanga (stewardship/guardianship).

More information is available here  (5.7MB PDF)