Himatangi Beach is defined by Statistics New Zealand as a rural settlement and covers 0.95 km2 (0.37 sq mi).
It is part of the wider Oroua Downs statistical area, which covers 125.28 km2 (48.37 sq mi).
The population of Himatangi Beach was 510 in the 2018 New Zealand census, an increase of 81 (18.9%) since the 2013 census, and an increase of 60 (13.3%) since the 2006 census.
The population increases to several thousand in the summer. Himatangi is the closest beach to Palmerston North, being only 35 km from the city centre.
It is also home to Palmerston North Surf Life Saving Club.
Himatangi” stems from a legend about a famous warrior chief, Matangi, who fished and killed a taniwha that was eating his relatives. The verb “Hi”, meaning “to fish”, was added to create the name Himatangi.
Many years ago, the coastline was a seasonal gathering place for Maori who camped in the area specifically to gather and eat kaimoana. Today, traces of their camps can be found near a series of lagoons 4km inland, indicating where the beachline must have been 500 years ago.