Hakana Bay

Hakana Bay is in the north-east end of Port Underwood and is recommended in the Pilot as an anchorage.  

It has a great beach that is perfect for a picnic in summer. It is backed by a great abundance of New Zealand's tallest native grass, the Toetoe, which grows along the shoreline. 

The majority of moorings in this area and a wooden wharf are located between neighbouring Ngakuta Bay and Hakana Bay.

Hakana Bay is extremely shallow on its eastern side, and the wharf on the southern side dries for most of its length at low water.

 Cruising boats will find good holding in mud and sand and some shelter from the direct force of the wind.  

The anchorage is satisfactory in most slight winds but as the wind picks up from either N or S, it tends to rise up over the valley, creating a vacuum effect which can cause turbulence in the water. This makes anchoring in stronger winds rather unpleasant.

A stern line is unnecessary in most conditions, although in bad winds it may be preferable to anchor with a line to the southern shore of the bay.



The origin of this bay’s name is uncertain. It may refer to the dance or performance, the haka.1

Alternatively, it has been suggested that the bay’s name comes from the Moriori word for a wooden drinking vessel or coffin.

The Moriori language is now extinct. It developed on Rēkohu/Chatham Islands and has a close relationship to the Māori language.2

Archaeological surveys of the bay undertaken in the 1970s uncovered evidence of early Māori occupation in the form of pits and a greenstone/pounamu pendant.3

Since the arrival of Europeans, the bay has always been referred to in two halves, Swampy and Dry Hakana.

In 1909 Arthur Flood built a houseand a boat building facility in Swampy Hakana.

There was a school in the bay between 1913 and 1916.

In 1963 a submarine electricity cable was laid between the south and north islands. The southern terminal for the cable was located at Fighting Bay, a cove over the hill from Hakana Bay, on the outer edge of Port Underwood.

The access road to the Fighting Bay was built from Hakana Bay and the construction camp for the New Zealand Electricity Department was located in the bay.4

The construction of the submarine cable meant that access to Port Underwood needed to be improved. In the early 1960s a road was constructed along a bridal track from Rarangi to meet with the existing road at Hakahaka Bay.5

1. Roberts, W. H. Sherwood. “Maori Nomenclature: Maori Names of Places in the Provincial District of Marlborough,” Marlborough Express, Volume XXXVII, Issue 216, 12 September 1903, Supplement, accessed January 9, 2018, https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/MEX19030912.2.58.2 .

2. James R. Eyles, Place Names of Port Underwood- a post European History (Picton: October Enterprises, 2002) 42.

3. Michael M Trotter, Port Underwood Archaeological Survey (Christchurch: Canterbury Museum, 1976) 7-8.

4. Loreen Brehaut, The Bays of Port Underwood (Picton: Picton Historical Society, 2012) 13.

5. Selwyn I Vercoe, Marlborough Will Shine Tonight: a History of the Marlborough Electric Power Board’S First Fifty Years, 1923-1973 (Blenheim: Marlborough Electric Power Board, 1973) 103.

Undesirable but can be pleasant in slight winds.
Offers some shelter in slight winds but is not very sheltered in stronger winds.
Shallow (<5m)
Type of beach
Sand | Gravel | Mud
Swimming | Diving
Rocks/reef/sand bank warnings
Head of the bay dries at low water
Between 5 and 20
Other information
Native toetoe (tall grass) grows along the shoreline. Toetoe is New Zealand's largest native grass, growing in clumps up to 3m in height.
Māori had many uses for toetoe, which included making baskets, containers to cook food in hot springs, kites, mats, wall linings and roof thatching. Even the flower stalks were useful - as frames for kites, and in tukutuku panelling. The seed heads themselves were used on fresh wounds to stop bleeding. Other medicinal uses included treatment of diarrhoea, kidney complaints and burns.