Spinifex , Kõwhangatara, also known as raumoa, tutikākoa, wawatai

Where does it grow?

It is a native sand grass that grows on sand dunes throughout NZ.  It is found mainly in the foredunes in Castlecliff.

What does it look like?

It is a silvery green sand grass . The thin leaves, covered with small silky hairs grow to about 60mm.  It sends out very long, knotted strong runners that bind and catch the sand blown by the wind. It has large round light buff-coloured spiky seed heads. They are almost as big as a base ball. These seed heads roll, race and dance across the sand dunes in late summer.  This means that the seed gets dispersed quickly and efficiently.

Why is it important to Castlecliff beach

It plays a very important role in dune formation because of its ability to bind the sand. They can withstand salt laden storms and high tides that sometimes can reach the foredunes. They help to form low rounded sand dunes which is what we want to achieve.

Coastal Care are actively planting spinifex in different places along the dunes.

Over a year ago they planted 10.000 spinifex on a blown out dune along the back of the foreshore just to the right of Morgan street. Already these spinifex are growing very vigorously. Over this winter (2022) another 10.000 are being


Spinifex Flower heads in December

Detailed picture of a male spinifex/ramoa flower showing stalk with pollen bearing anther.
When pollen on anther is ripe it will become wind borne and if some lands on the stigma of the female flower head it will fertilise this pistil.

Detailed picture of a female spinifex/ramoa flower showing white styles and stigmas ready to receive pollen.

Spinifex life cycle through pics

Bottom right: Collecting female seed head on Rangiora St  Swimming Beach,

Bottom left: Jo from Coastlands Nursery with several spinifex seed heads

Top: planting the young plants near Morgan St

Spinifex life cycle through pics (Photo by Southlights and Pearson)
Spinifex arrives in Paul’s Nursery