Shellfish gathering

Tips for gathering shellfish and who to contact about warnings.

Check before you collect shellfish

Some areas might look suitable at first but may not be suitable for collecting shellfish.  The water could be contaminated by:

  • sewage and domestic waste
  • engine fuel, paints and chemicals
  • agricultural waste and run-off

Avoid collecting shellfish from areas where there are signs warning of contaminated shellfish.  Look out for the following risk indicators:

  • recent heavy rain causing farm run-off
  • houses close to beach - they may have septic tank leaks
  • rivers and streams that may be polluted by animal or industrial waste
  • stock near the gathering area
  • algal bloom in the water
  • stormwater drain outlets on the beach

Keeping shellfish safe to eat

Always ensure your shellfish (kai moana) is safe to eat.


  • collect from clean, suitable areas
  • check with locals if in doubt
  • take your shellfish straight home and refrigerate

Know your limit

There are limits to the amount of shellfish you are allowed to take.  This is to ensure there is enough for everyone - today and for the future.  Shellfish limits are managed by the Ministry for Primary Industries - Fisheries.

For shellfish bag limits and size restrictions, see the Ministry for Primary Industries - Fisheries website:

  • Auckland and Kermadec fishing rules (this includes Northland):
  • Report a poacher by phoning 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224)

Shellfish warnings - is it suitable to collect shellfish in your area?

As the Northland Regional Council, our role is to test water quality at a number of spots around Northland that are popular for collecting shellfish (kai moana).

However, we pass that information on to the Northland District Health Board. It is their role to decide if an area should be closed to shellfish gathering.

It is the role of your district council to provide signage and promote any warnings. We do not publish a list of current shellfish warnings on this website.

More information is available from: 

Whangarei District Council (Media Releases section):

Far North District Council (Health Warnings section):

Kaipara District Council:
Tel: 0800 727 059

Who to contact

For information about a specific area or a warning sign contact the on-duty Health Protection Officer at Northland Health.

Northland Health
Phone: 09 430 4100

For shellfish bag limits and size restrictions:

Ministry for Primary Industries - Fisheries
Phone: 0800 00 83 33

For general information:

Northland Regional Council
Freephone: 0800 002 004