Interesting Facts

Interesting Facts about the island of Motutapu

The Island

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.

The basement rocks of the island date back to the Jurassic period, 165 million years ago, making Motutapu one of the oldest islands in the Gulf. By contrast, much younger Rangitoto erupted out of the sea only about 600 years ago. The landscape of the two islands is completely different with Rangitoto's rugged volcanic terrain contrasting with Motutapu's rolling hills which were blanketed with a thick layer of ash during the Rangitoto eruption. The long low profile of Motutapu contrasts with the verticle emphaisis of Rangitoto.

Motutapu is a working pastoral farm, far and away the largest of its type in the Auckland region. Predominantly in grass, the undulating landform has a central spine of 100 metres rising to 121 metres at the highest point.

There are several remnants of native forest along the coastal fringe (mainly pohutukawa) and inland (mainly karaka, pohutukawa, rewarewa, puriri and kohekohe). Extensive wetlands are a feature of the landscape. Introduced exotic trees planted by the early settlers and farmers (pine, macrocarpa, Norfolk Island pine), also feature in the island landscape.

How does Motutapu compare with its Hauraki Gulf Marine Park island neighbours?


Motutapu is 1509 hectares

  • 7 times bigger than Tiritiri Matangi (207ha)
  • 8.5 times bigger than Motuihe (178ha)
  • 10 times bigger than Rakino (146ha)
  • 19 times bigger than Motuora (80ha)
  • Rangitoto is 1.5 times bigger than Motutapu (2310ha)
  • Little Barrier (Hauturu) is 1.9 times bigger that Motutapu (2817ha)
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