The Taiharuru catchment area covers around 2,300ha, with the estuary occupying 368ha.
The catchment forms part of a wider pattern of estuaries – Whangarei Harbour, Pataua, Horahora, Ngunguru – a system of ecological “stepping stones”, especially for birds. The area has witnessed a long period of Maori settlement and more recent European activities which has led to considerable changes from its original natural state.
The catchment lies in an area that includes a small holiday settlement at McGregors Bay, farms, homestays and lifestyle blocks. It has long been an important local source of kaimoana, recreational fishing, boating and swimming on the river. Despite the human impact the area is already showing the benefits of a major effort to fence many of the grazed margins in recent years
A diverse range of habitats are represented within the catchment. These include:
- Native forest and shrubland
- Freshwater streams and wetlands
- Mangrove margins
- Estuarine waters
- Rocky islands and related reefs at the estuary mouth
- Dams and ponds
Threatened and significant species include bittern, grey duck, banded rail, fernbird, spotless crake, long-finned eel and banded kokopu