Motutapu, the sacred island, is one of the many lovely islands that dot the Hauraki Gulf. Situated alongside and joined by causeway to Rangitoto, Auckland’s iconic volcanic cone backdrop, Motutapu dates back to the Jurassic period, 175 million years ago and is one of the oldest islands in the Gulf. Its upstart neighbour erupted out of the sea only 600 years ago.

Motutapu is fast becoming the walking mecca of the Hauraki Gulf. The Rotary Centennial Loop Track is a 2 hour loop walk that takes visitors through the fabulous volunteer planted native forest. Over 500,000 trees have been planted over the 23 years of the Trust operations. The Loop includes a ridgeline section affording superb views of the Inner Hauraki Gulf. Since the pest eradication project of 2009, the birdsong of the translocated and returning native bird species can be enjoyed throughout this walk.

This walk can be extended to take in the WWII Military sites at Northern Junction. A full day walk can include a visit to Billy Goat Point, the northernmost part of the island and a picnic/swim at Sandy Bay.

Facilities and Activities

Reid Homestead Visitor Centre

Reid Homestead, situated at the northern end of Home Bay, was built in 1901 and has for over a century remained a stable landmark amidst a century of social change.

The Motutapu Restoration Trust has restored the Reid Homestead, and repainted in its original colours.  It is now a visitor centre with interpretive displays and DVDs. Coupled with the restoration of the Home Bay wharf, the Homestead ensures visitors are provided with an international-class facility from which to explore the island or to embark on conservation activities.

The Homestead is open on public volunteer Sundays (every second  Sunday throughout the year), and often on Saturdays during summer.  Snacks, ice creams and drinks are available for purchase.

DOC Campsite at Home Bay

The Home Bay Camp Site, 5 mins walk from the Home Bay wharf, 90 minutes walk from Rangitoto’s Islington Bay or approx 3 hours from Rangitoto wharf has basic facilities only – toilets and no showers. The campsite is adjacent to the beach so it is easily accessible by private vessels. This is the only campground on Rangitoto/Motutapu. Adults = $8.00 per night, children = $4.00.

Motutapu Outdoor Education Centre (MOEC), Administration Bay

The centre sleeps 180 in bunkhouse accommodation. There is also a lodge with 34 beds, a small conference room and a cottage which sleeps 11. They have a webpage which provides a lot more information on our neighbours at Administration Bay, click here:

MOEC Bookings: (09) 445-4486

Military Sites

There are many disused military sites on the island including a battery of 6 inch guns and anti-aircraft, machinegun, radar and searchlight installations.

Click here to learn more: and

Things to do and see:

  • Archaeological sites
  • WWII military sites
  • Coastal and farm walks
  • Walk Motutapu (Walkway)
  • Tree planting and restoration projects
  • Motutapu Restoration Trust nursery
  • Motutapu Outdoor Education Centre
  • Swimming
  • Picnicking
  • Camping at Home Bay
  • Summit walk on adjacent Rangitoto


Fullers are the main ferry operator to Motutapu and Rangitoto Islands. There are ferries every second Sunday to Home Bay Motutapu, and daily ferries to Rangitoto.

When the Fuller’s Ferry to Rangitoto is full, it is full. Volunteers are asked to book in advance, directly with Fullers ph 09 367 9111. Please advise Fullers when booking that you are a Motutapu Tree Planter (even though you may not be planting on the day), and that you will have a discount card and will pay on the volunteer day.

This is a booking only. Fullers will give you a booking reference number and you can use this to redeem your discounted ticket and pay on the day.

The Trust’s Volunteer Coordinators will meet you at the Ferry Building under the arch and give you the Ferry discount card which you will need to get the discounted ferry trip. If you cannot make it on the day please let Fullers know.

Alternatively, there are water taxis via Auckland Sea Shuttles.

Know Before You Go

What to Bring

  • Lunch and drinking water for the day.
  • Snacks are available to purchase from Reid Homestead when it is open.
  • In winter: warm clothes, wet weather gear, sturdy footwear.
  • In summer: sunhat, sun-screen, sturdy footwear.
  • Any medication you may need. Plants/grasses can cause hay fever. Be prepared.

Advice for Walkers

Special note from our good friends at Motutapu Farm Ltd

Walkers on the island need to be aware that there is a farm operating on Motutapu. Much of the poled walking track is over working farm paddocks. Please take note of the following:

  • You must leave farm gates as you find them. If a gate is closed and you open it for access then you must close it behind you.
  • Often there are young cattle grazing within the poled track paddocks. Like young children they can be inquisitive and playful. They may at times approach you. Stand your ground, clap your hands, shout and/or wave your arms. Any combination of these responses will see them quickly back away.
  • Please note – at times there are bulls on the island. Whichever paddock they are confined to has warning signs, so keep clear.

Enjoy walking the beautiful island of Motutapu, one of New Zealand’s pest free island sanctuaries.

Important Biosecurity Information

The islands of Motutapu and Rangitoto are pest free and home to translocated endangered species such as takahe and kiwi.  So it is extremely important that we keep Motutapu free from pest incursions. Please note the following rules are now in place in relation to travel to both Rangitoto and Motutapu:

  • Packs, bags, containers – All bags and containers should be able to be closed and sealed.
  • Check for mice, insects, seeds & soil, & remove if found. Once packed, keep bags closed zipped up tight. Remember to recheck your bag on the morning of departure.
  • Footwear – Check laces & seams for seeds. Check boot treads for soil & seeds. Clean if required.
  • Clothing – Check pockets for seeds and clean if required.
  • Food – Pack all food in sealed containers free from insects. Please – no open bags.
  • Dogs are absolutely prohibited, even on our beaches (see comments below)
  • Spray your shoes when you enter the forest or nursery – this ensures Kauri Dieback doe not arrive on this island. Spray bottles at entrances to track.

We have created an accessible, iconic nature sanctuary 30 minutes from Downtown Auckland but we need everyone’s support to keep it that way. This means being super-vigilant about rodent stowaways and reporting any sightings of possible pest incursions on the islands. The support of visitors for these biosecurity measures is critical to protect the largest (with Rangitoto) and closest pest free island to our New Zealand mainland.

Contact Details

To report any suspected pest incursions please phone the DOC Emergency Hotline.

DOC Emergency Hotline: 0800 DOCHOT (0800 362 468)
DOC Ranger: 09 372 2060
DOC Auckland Info Centre: 09 379 6476

Stories of the Island

Charlie Blampied – September 2017

“We started our walk through a small bush and couldn’t hear the guide over the sound of the birds singing. We walked on over a half mud half gravel track and could only hear the lovely sound of a Grey Warbler. We continued our walk past monstrous slips, when I looked at it I could see a black line of dark mud from when Mt Rangitoto erupted thousands of years before. I heard the sound of a Tui as I walked past a muddy pond. I continued past a bush of native trees like Manuka and Totara which volunteers had planted many years before.

I ran to catch up to the group, as I ran I could hear the amazing sound of Aotearoa’s native birds. The volunteers had reintroduced many endangered endemic birds on the island: Kiwi, Kakapo, Takahe, Saddleback, Miro Miro, Piwakawaka, Tui, Silvereye, Tom Tit, Ruru and many many more. We wandered past pill boxes which my great grandfather used to fight in World War II. We went into a big place where a huge gun was kept, the space was echoey, so I sang out loud! We then went underground where other guns were kept, it was so dark. We came outside and had a photo with our grandparents and cousins, Pops, B, Leo, Jasper, Adi and Barnaby.

Our guide John told us a funny story about the war. Every night some soldiers had to keep lookout and man the guns, and the person in charge used to make a joke of it. When the soldiers were keeping lookout, the Captain would climb under the fence surrounding the big gun, and would sneak up behind the soldiers and give them a massive fright. But one night the soldiers were seeking revenge. They dumped a pile of cow poo under the fence where the Captain would sneak by. As the Captain was making his way to the fence the soldiers couldn’t help giggling to themselves. After that the Captain never scared them again!

By the end of the story it was time to go so we wandered past the singing birds and the beautiful Pohutukawa trees. At the fence line there was a whole row of blue flowers, they were so pretty. We walked back to the place called the Reid Homestead where we played games, including Sack Race (I won), egg and spoon race (I won that too), and a relay race (we came second). We also had a lollie scramble, it was so much fun!

We caught the ferry home, it was quite long and bumpy, and it gave me time to finish writing this story. When I went on the outside deck I was almost blown away, but it was awesome. I felt like I was on top of the world! I really miss Motutapu Island, I hope I can go back one day. Thank you so much for the experience.”