The origns of this bay’s name are unknown but it shares its title, Whataroa, with a small township in southern Westland on the West Coast of the South Island.
The New Zealand Company chief surveyor, William Mein Smith, described Māori whare or dwellings in the bay in 1842 and an archaeological survey undertaken in the 1970s noted remains of occupation at the south end of bay.
In 1870 the sailing ship, Hera Bight, was in Port Underwood to load wool for export to England when it caught fire. The ship was towed in to Whataroa Bay and scuttled.
The ship was re-floated to salvage the wool and the hull towed to Nelson to act as a storage hulk.1
1. James R. Eyles, Place Names of Port Underwood- a post European History (Picton: October Enterprises, 2002) 47.