Hautai is New Zealand’s most remote mainland marine reserve - two days’ walk from the nearest road end, in an area with no formed walking tracks. Its purpose is to protect representative marine habitats and animals of the southern West Coast.
Hautai Marine Reserve lies alongside Te Wāhipounamu South West New Zealand World Heritage Area.
Underwater canyons a few kilometres offshore provide food for marine mammals and birds, particularly kekeno/NZ fur seals, tawaki/Fiordland crested penguins, and blue penguins, which are abundant here.
The shore is dominated by a mixture of boulder and bedrock reefs, and beaches of coarse sand and gravel.
The beaches rise in a sweeping gesture to steep and forested coastline, blown to a uniform curl by the prevailing wind.