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People in a lab working blended with the area of Marine Park

Whakahou i a Marine Park, Sulphur Point (Paritaha)

Reclassification of part of Marine Park, Sulphur Point

We’re reclassifying a small part (approximately 6%) of Marine Park at Sulphur Point to allow for the development of a marine research and education facility.

Update on tender to lease

In February 2023, requests for tenders to lease the land were invited from entities that can demonstrate the capability to establish and operate a marine research and education facility.

We have received one tender. The tender process has now closed, and we have entered into a period of direct negotiation with the applicant. If, as a result of that negotiation an agreement is reached with that applicant, information will be publicly shared.

If agreement is reached with that applicant, it will need to apply for resource and building consents before construction can start.

Read the public notice calling for tenders to lease

Thanks for sharing your thoughts

In May and June 2022, we asked for your feedback on the proposal and two-thirds (66.3 per cent) of you supported the reclassification. After considering all the feedback at a meeting on 25 July 2022, Commissioners decided to go ahead with the reclassification, which was approved by the Minister of Conservation’s delegate in September 2022. Tauranga City Commissioners made the decision to reclassify the land based on the positive effect that the facility will have on our city’s economy, the increased research and education opportunities it will provide, and the flow-on benefits that research carried out at facility will have on climate change. 

Read the report below.

What we proposed

To reclassify about 7,000m2 of land at the Marine Park from recreation reserve to local purpose (marine research and education facility) reserve to allow a marine research and education facility to be developed.

Every reserve under the Reserves Act has a classification, which determines the main purpose of the reserve. Our proposal sought to change the current recreation classification to something more suited to the intended use. The reclassification does not affect council’s ownership of the land, its reserve status, or the protections under the Reserves Act. Neither does it affect the recreation classification of the rest of the reserve; it simply means that the piece of land within the reserve can be used for the purpose of developing a marine research and education facility.

About the area of land at Marine Park

Aerial view of proposed area for reclassification

Aerial view of proposed area for reclassification

The reclassified area is adjacent to the overflow parking area. The rest of the reserve (about 10.7 hectares) remains recreation reserve.

The land in question is shown on SO plan 530292 (148kb pdf) and in the overview document (2mb pdf).

We identified this site at Marine Park as the most suitable location for a marine research and education facility because of its proximity to the ocean, Tauranga city centre, tertiary and education institutions, boat ramps, and a deep-sea channel connected to the harbour entrance.

Parking and boat ramps

We know that Marine Park is a popular boat launching location and that demand for parking and boat ramps will increase as the city grows.

Funding for a new six-lane boat ramp has been included in our 2021-31 Long-term Plan. This project is now in the master planning stage, which flowed from the Marine Facilities Strategy.

Formalised car parking and landscaping are also being investigated as part of the council’s Marine Facilities Strategy, which will guide the way our community and visitors access Tauranga Harbour, Te Awanui, in the future.

The reclassification and proposed facility does not impact on council’s plans to construct new boat ramps or parking.

Advantages of a marine research and education facility

The development of a marine research and education facility would allow Tauranga to further establish itself nationally and internationally in this important and valuable sector by increasing tertiary and post-tertiary education options.

Numerous public benefits have been identified, including:

  • Increased quality and quantity of tertiary and post-tertiary education, allowing Tauranga to further establish itself in this important and valuable sector
  • Accessible marine and coastal environmental-based education, including for the Bay of Plenty’s primary and secondary education sector
  • Ongoing employment opportunities
  • Environmental benefits stemming from an increased capability to protect New Zealand's marine environments, such as developing innovative and sustainable responses to the effects of climate change
  • Sustainable and valuable commercial developments such as cancer drugs and nutraceutical products
  • Opportunities for applying a Māori lens to environmental management through mātauranga Māori.


Construction will begin once an entity – that can demonstrate the capability to establish and operate the facility – is identified through a tender process and the appropriate regulatory process has been completed.

An observational study of Marine Park, conducted between 25 January and 3 February 2019, concluded that there appeared to be little active recreational use of the grassed area between the Fish and Dive Club and the northern boundary of the reserve. People that were counted were generally passing through, walking dogs, fishing, socialising, or gaining access to the beach. During the busiest period observed, 11 people were seen using the area.

A more recent report confirmed that the area proposed for the facility is underutilised, with a maximum of 16 users counted on the afternoon of Sunday, 31 January 2021. These users were mostly associated with other zones in the Marine Park area, and generally consisted of people going or returning from fishing, vehicles or obtaining access to the beach and walking dogs. 

It’s intended that the public would be able to access parts of the facility for a range of educational and recreational activities. The detailed extent of public access and range of activities will form part of the lease tender assessment process.

Yes, the land may only be used in accordance with the classification, and in line with any required consents.

No, the location of the facility will not impact council’s ability to deliver the required levels of service for parking. It would be a requirement that the marine education and research facility has its own carpark within the reclassified land area, if required.

No, the location of the facility would not impact existing car and trailer parking or access to boat ramps in the vicinity.

Funding for a new six-lane boat ramp has been included in our 2021-31 Long-term Plan, while formalised car parking and additional furniture and landscaping is being investigated as part of the council’s master plan exercise.

We are proposing to reclassify about 7,000m2 (approximately 6%) of land at the Marine Park, leaving approximately 10.7 hectares of recreation reserve area.

The strategy identifies the growing demand for access to the water by power boats using the boat ramps and from non-powered craft such as dragon boats and waka ama. This has land-based implications including parking and ancillary facilities.

Sulphur Point and Marine Park will need to continue to provide for this recreational use as there is limited public land with deep water access available in Tauranga. Growing demand for berths is another issue that will need to be resolved as Tauranga Marina has large waiting lists and there is a short supply of berthage for large vessels.

Development of a masterplan for Sulphur Point will look at how these issues can be responded to within the areas of land available. The strategy will help to identify other options for how this demand can be met around Tauranga Harbour. If it is approved to go ahead, the reclassified land area would be incorporated into the masterplan.

Funding for a new six-lane boat ramp has been included in our 2021-31 Long-term Plan.

Key information

Project type
Parks and recreation


Ōtūmoetai / Matua

Key dates

  • Open for written feedback

    Monday 16 May – Monday 20 June 2022
  • Public hearings

    June 2022
  • Report to confirm or abandon reclassification

    July 2022
  • Council (as Administering Body) confirms reclassification

    July 2022
  • Minister of Conservation’s delegate confirms change of classification

    September 2022
  • Reclassification finalised (gazette notice and updated title)

    3 November 2022
  • Lease tender process starts

    20 February 2023
  • Decision on lease tender

    late 2024

Who's listening

Gert van Staden, Senior Strategic Advisor
Tauranga City Council 
07 577 7000


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