Okiwa Bay

Okiwa Bay at the head of the Grove Arm is very shallow and dries at low tide.

Deep draft vessels should keep well clear of the West shore, the wharf at the Grove has several moorings close to its approach.

Water depth up to the wharf is >2m at low tide.

The main part of the bay dries out and is not recommended as an overnight anchorage in other than calm weather.

Council maintains a coin operated waste bin close to the wharf here.


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There is some debate over the origins of Okiwa Bay’s name. Some sources claim it means, ‘the home of the kiwi’ [1] while others state it was named after a chief, Kiwa.

Rangitāne and Ngāti Kuia lived in the area until the 1830s, after which time the land was under the control of the Northern Tribes.

Joseph Thomas a whaler was the first European settler to buy land in Okiwa Bay, purchasing 400 acres, from his father-in-law, Nohorua.[2]

European settlers named the bay and its settlement, the Grove, after the kahikatea trees growing in the area.

The 1860s was a busy time for the bay. Alexander Scott Duncan established the first steam sawmill in Marlborough, Victoria Mill. The mill only operated in the Bay until the 1870s but it is estimated it shipped 18 million feet of timber out of Okiwa during that period.

During the 1864 Gold Rush, Okiwa Bay was the main access point for the gold mining settlement of Cullensville. During this time it boasted a hotel for miners and travellers and a post office. From 1911 until 1953 the Bay was also the home to a dairy factory that shipped cheese from the local jetty.[3]

During the 1950s and 1960s, locals remember the Grove Arm of the Queen Charlotte Sound and its bays being full of fish. Cod, terakihi and moki were caught in abundance and seahorses could be seen swimming around the jetties.[4]

Grove Wharf with ship alongside and horse and cart in foreground.

Grove Wharf in 1911. Courtesy, Picton Historical Society.


[1] H. A. H. Insull, Marlborough Place Names (Wellington, A. H. & A. W. Reed, 1952) p43.

[2] Loreen Brehaut, The Grove Arm of the Queen Charlotte Sound (Picton, Picton Historical Society, 2012) p15.

[3] Loreen Brehaut, “The Grove Okiwa,” The Prow.org.nz, accessed October 10, 2017, http://www.theprow.org.nz/yourstory/the-grove-okiwa/#Main_content

[4] Richard Dillon, email message to the Marlborough District Council Environmental Scientist, August 24, 2015.

used by bach owners and is a popular starting place for kayakers
Only during calm weather
Shallow <1.5m
Type of beach
Popular with kayakers
Rocks/reef/sand bank warnings
Shallow banks of mud throughout the head of the bay
several West of the wharf