Like other Northland harbours, Whangaroa Harbour is an old river system, drowned when the sea level rose about 6,000 years ago. Whangaroa is distinctive because of its steep rocky outcrops, formed of ancient volcanic rocks.
Robin Hyde wrote about Northland’s scenery in her poem ‘Whangaroa Harbour’ (1937):
Not broken yet, this mirror of the morning,
The heart-shaped polished nephrite of the sea.
Oh, glass of coldness, shield of steely shadows,
Cannot thy look assuage and counsel me?
Te whakamahi i tēnei tūemi
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