Three alleged poachers have been caught with 867 paua - far over the recreational limit of 10 paua per person per day.
Ministry for Primary Industries compliance officers found three men on the west coast south of Titahi Bay on Monday with three large packs full of shucked paua hidden out of sight.
MPI said the packs were found to contain more than 81kg of paua and many were deemed to be under-size.
Two of the three men were known to MPI officers.
All three men would face serious fisheries charges that could result in five years imprisonment and/or a $250,000 fine, MPI said.
An outboard motor, paua and other property were seized by compliance officers.
MPI Wellington and Taranaki district compliance manager Mike Green said while he was very pleased with the work of his compliance staff, he was disappointed to see gathering on this scale and magnitude continuing to take place in and around the Wellington coastline.
"Wellington is well known for its paua and in places there is a good and plentiful supply for all to enjoy.
"The actions of these individuals in this particular case go a long way to ruin that for everyone else. Taking quantities of that size strips an entire area and can take months if not years to recover.
"It is timely to remind everyone that recreational fishing rules have been developed to ensure the sustainability of our fisheries. Taking just enough for a feed, within those limits, allows everyone to enjoy and taste the bounties of our coastline."
Three men will appear in the Porirua District Court on November 11.