The Island


The island of Motutapu lies in the inner Hauraki Gulf adjacent to Rangitoto Island, just a short ferry ride from Downtown Auckland, the largest centre of population in New Zealand.

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Motutapu on a Map

Motutapu is an island in New Zealand's Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. The Park is located on the north eastern coast of New Zealand's North Island alongside Auckland, our country's largest city. It is 1509 hectares in size and is a recreation reserve administered by the Department of Conservation, one of 220 islands looked after by the Department.

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Island Flora

A Summary

  • Motutapu covers an area of 1510 hectares, the majority is in farmed pasture.
  • The original forest has gone but there are small post- eruption native forest remnants including puriri, karaka, taraire, mangeao, kohekohe, and flax.
  • Pohutukawa trees grow on the coastal fringe.
  • There are now approximately 75 hectares of volunteer replanted native forest.
  • The island is host to a number of unwanted plants including rhamnus (evergreen buckthorn), moth plant, woolly nightshade, apple of Sodom, pampas and smilex. These pests are being brought under control through the weed programme.
  • Some exotic trees, planted by the early European settler farmers, such as Norfolk Island pine, macrocarpa, pinus radiata and poplars can be seen in the landscape.

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Island Fauna

A Summary

  • The island has waders such as the threatened New Zealand dotterel, the variable oystercatcher and various gulls and terns. 
  • Tuis, fantails, native wood pigeons (kereru), paradise ducks, hawks and pukeko are commonly seen on the island.
  • There are a number of unwanted species such as cats, stoats, hedgehogs, rabbits, rats and mice that threaten the native bird life. Wallabies and possums have already been eradicated from Rangitoto and Motutapu. The remaining pests are targeted for eradication in winter 2009. 

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The islands of Motutapu and Rangitoto are 'joined at the hip' (by a causeway constructed by US servicemen stationed on the island during WWII) , yet they couldn't be more different. They are a unique combination. Motutapu is Jurassic, sitting on ancient greywacke more than 160 million years old and sedimentary strata some 20 million years old. It is an ancient island dating back to Gondwanaland whereas Rangitoto is NZ's youngest island.

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Post War Timeline

Timeline Post WWII to Present Day

Remaining military personnel leave and minefields cleared

Quarantine station opened (closed in late 1950's)
Former Andrew Craig (Reid brothers' farm manager) cottage used for accommodation

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Interesting Facts

Interesting Facts about the island of Motutapu

 Motutapu, Sacred Island, is one of the many beautiful islands that dot the Hauraki Gulf. It covers an area of 1509 hectares and is joined by a causeway to Rangitoto, Auckland's iconic volcanic cone backdrop. Motutapu is a recreation reserve administered by the Department of Conservation. The island is an open sanctuary so New Zealanders and overseas travellers are welcome to visit any time. It is accessible by ferry to Home Bay or private vessel to one of the many sheltered anchorages around the coastline.

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