Visitor Information


The Motutapu Outdoor Education Camp (MOEC)


MOEC is our close neighbour on the island. The Motutapu Restoration Trust works with MOEC and other parties via the Motutapu Stakeholders Forum which facilitates cooperation and resource sharing in order to achieve our individual and collective objectives. Duncan Watson,Facility Manager,Motutapu Outdoor Education Camp, provides us this following information:

Administration Bay, situated on the northern shore of Motutapu Island, is the site of the MOEC Camp. The camp was originally constructed as an Artillery Camp in WWII, providing the main accommodation facility on the island, serving as barracks for the 6-inch battery personnel and as the overall headquarters and administrative centre for the island.

Since 1966 the camp has functioned as an Outdoor Education Camp.

The Motutapu Outdoor Education Trust (an IRD approved charitable trust) was formed in 1991 and holds a 24 year Concession (Lease) from The Department of Conservation to run and maintain the Camp.

Full and up to date information may be found on the MOEC Web Site however a summary of the key information is provided below


The primary focus of the Camp is provision of Education Outside The Classroom (EOTC), Team Building and Experiential Outdoor Education, generally as part of a School Camp; however MOEC is also popular with family and corporate groups during summer, weekends and school holidays. We are not affiliated to any religious, ethnic or other group, everyone is welcome!
However, please note that all accommodation and use of other facilities must be booked in advance through links on the web site or by phoning 09 849 5656.

For safety and security reasons please contact MOEC prior to visiting the site.

Main Camp

sleeps 180 in 4 dormitories. (approx 45 in each)
The long dormitories feature polished wooden floors with central walkways, beds down either side.
The lower dorm (dorm 4) has a combination of beds and bunks with some separate rooms - a popular dorm for parents and teachers.
Also included in Main Camp is the cook's quarters which sleep an additional 4 people with self contained toilet and shower facilities for the catering providers.

Main Camp Kitchen and Dining

The main camp has a large modern kitchen and large dining room with doors opening onto a deck with expansive sea views, outdoor seating and shade sails overhead.
The kitchen (gas cooking) has two Rational commercial fan ovens, large commercial steamer, eight burner pot stove for large pots, six burner hob & oven, a walk in chiller, large chest freezer, large central preparation benches, a walk in pantry, large pot wash up tub, a commercial toaster, 3 dish sinks etc..
The kitchen is fully stocked with cooking utensils, pots, pans, baking trays etc... (individuals' cutlery and crockery is BYO)
Dish wash up for students is situated off the dining room in a large covered area with many sinks and benches.
Barbeques available on request
Guests bring their own plates, mugs, cutlery, tea towels and storage bag.

The Museum
is situated in a former dormitory and offers a comprehensive and visual display of historical, geological and environmental study subjects for both Rangitoto and Motutapu.

The Resource Room
is a converted dormitory used extensively for marine and environmental studies, artworks, meetings and wet weather activities.

The Audio Visual Room
seats 25-30 and contains a TV, DVD and Video.

The Gymnasium
has a wooden floor and features an indoor climbing wall and basketball hoop. The Gym is used not only for indoor sports, but also for concerts, wet weather activities, night activities and group gatherings.

The Laundry
has a coin operated washer and dryer available for all to use. They both take 3 x $1.00 coins per load. They are commercial machines and sleeping bags can be washed and dried in them.

The Lodge
situated on the waters edge, sleeps 34 in total in 7 bunkrooms of 4-6 people each.

This is a very attractive and well-positioned heritage building with wooden floors, decks and a fantastic location with superb views.
The lodge is fully self-contained with kitchen facilities and a large dining area. Plates, cutlery etc. are provided.
2 shower rooms, each with 2 showers
2 separate toilets.
There is a BBQ on the Lodge deck for your use.
A log burner is provided in the dining room during winter. Fire wood supply may be limited at some times of the year.
The Cottage
Absolutely beach front, but amazingly private, three bedroom house, gas hob & oven, fridge & freezer, log fire, shower over bath

Hiring Policy
The Main Camp / Lodge & Cottage may be hired independently or combined for larger groups if required. The power supply is a combination of gas and electric. We operate on Generator power. Electricity supply may be limited to 6.30am - 11pm.

Other Info
We also have a drying room, outdoor clothes line, small playing field area, flying fox, walks, basketball hoop in the Gym, 3 beautiful bays for swimming and relaxing and tons of open space surrounding us.


MOEC offers a wide range activities both land based and water based which is constantly being updated.
Some examples:
High Ropes, Low Ropes, 6 sided Climbing wall, Abseiling, Cargo Net, Survivor Challenge, Confidence Course, Flying Fox, Motutapu Challenge, Raft Building, Sailing, Kayaking, Sea Kayaking, Waka Ama, Beach and other Environmental Studies, Birding, Orienteering, Historic Walks, etc..

We take safety very seriously hence in keeping with Best Industry Practice many of the activities require a MOEC Trained and Approved Instructor.

Safety Management Plan's, RAMS, Fee Schedules, availability etc may be found on our website or by contacting the MOEC office on 09 445 4486

For any further details, please refer our website or call the Facility Manager, Duncan Watson on 09 849 5656.

Duncan Watson
Facility Manager
Motutapu Outdoor Education Camp

Walk Motutapu

This information taken from our Walk Motutapu brochure
published by the MRT and DOC Auckland Area Office
You need to click to open the .pdf map
print it out as you need a hard copy to follow the various walks described below. You might also like to check out our google map


How to get to the Island

WALK MOTUTAPU is a network of easy walking tracks linking historic and natural places of interest on Motutapu as well as connecting with tracks on Rangitoto.It opens up the mosaic of the cultural and ecological layers of this 'sacred island'.

Unlike its volcanic neigbour Rangitoto. Motutapu is a gently undulating island providing easy walking over pasture and a track through the regenerating native forest behind Home Bay.

"Walk Motutapu" provides stunning views of the Hauraki Gulf, the Coromandel and Whangaparoa Peninisulas and the city of Auckland. It introduces walkers to birdlife and native trees, as well as a working farm, just a short ferry ride from the centre of Auckland.

The island hosts our significant conservation project focused on the restoration of the natural and cultural landscapes of the island.




Home Bay to Islington Bay:
4.2 km; 1 hr 30 mins

Home Bay to Emu Point:
4.8 km; 1 hr 45 mins

Emu Point to Islington Bay:
3.0 km; 1 hr 5 mins

Home Bay is the site of an important pa, the 1901 Reid Homestead, Premier Picnics, and the Reid family graves.Track 1 starts at the southern end of the bay to the left of the camping ground. Poles mark the track across farmland, climbing to the island's 120m trig station
providing panoramic views of the Hauraki Gulf and greater Auckland. The track passes one of the ecological restoration sites, planted by volunteers in 2002 and 2003.
A loop track to Emu Point passes the site of the original homestead in Emu Bay.The main track continues towards Rangitoto - above the distinctive 15 million year old Waitemata sandstone cliffs facing Islington Bay and Rangitoto. The walk highlights the contrasts between the 600 year old volcanic Rangitoto with the 180 million year old Jurassic origins of Motutapu.

The track finishes near the Causeway, where walkers can either explore the tracks on Rangitoto or continue on Walk Motutapu towards Administration Bay.

a motutapu and rangitoto are joined by a short causeway


Home Bay to Northern Junction:
2 km; 40 mins

This track ascends through the growing Home Bay Forest planted by thousands of
volunteers since 1994.Walkers will observe a healthy regenerating native ecosystem. This walkway finishes at the Northern Junction, with the major military sites just a 5 minute walk away and access to tracks to the north and west. For more detailed information on this walk, click here

regenerating native ecosystem


Northern Junction to Billy Goat Point, via military sites and Wetland Track:
3.3 km; 1 hr 10 mins

Northern Junction to Waikarapupu:
2.1 km; 50 mins

The track passes WWII telegraph and observation post sites. A short detour will take in the gun emplacements. The track crosses undulating pasture to Billy Goat Point, passing the Waikarapupu wetland. At Billy Goat Point another military site is located and provides a great outlook to the north. Mullet, Station, Waikarapupu and Sandy Bays can be accessed from this track.

j pohututkawas near billy goat point


Northern Junction to Billy Goat Point via military sites, Sandy Bay and Pohutukawa Track:
3.3 km; 1 hr 20 mins

Northern Junction to Sandy Bay:
1.1 km; 35 mins

Sandy Bay to Billy Goat Point:
2.2 km; 45 mins

The track passes the three WWII gun emplacements which once housed the six-inch gun battery. Take a torch and explore the underground magazines beneath the emplacements.

The track dips down close to Sandy Bay before climbing along the ridge to Billy Goat Point. Walkers will see groupings of young and mature pohutukawa.



Administration Bay to the Causeway, Islington Bay:
5.2 km; 1 hr 30 mins

The track from Administration Bay is accessed by a coastal track from Sandy Bay, off the Pohutukawa Track. It passes near to the Motutapu Outdoor Education Camp (MOEC)The camp area is out of bounds to the public.

From Administration Bay the track clings to the coast to Pig Bay before moving inland
across pasture passing several WWII bunkers and magazines. The track joins one of the arterial roads which walkers follow to Islington Bay where they can continue on Track 1 back to Home Bay or cross the Causeway to walk the tracks on Rangitoto.

sunset admin bay 2


Northern Junction to Islington Bay (via road):
3.7 km; 1 hr 15 mins

Mullet Bay to Northern Junction:
1 km; 20 mins

Station Bay to Northern Junction:
1.6 km; 40 mins

Waikarapupu Bay to Northern Junction:
2.1 km; 50 mins

Sandy Bay to Northern Junction:
1.1 km; 35 mins


12.2 km; 4 hrs 30 mins
Take in the volunteers' forest, Northern Junction, the gun emplacements, Sandy Bay, Administration Bay, Causeway and return to Home Bay (or vice versa)


Allow 2 hrs

Walk up the Rotary Centennial track (45 mins)
Just prior to arriving at the top gate at Northern Junction take the left hand track which exits at watershed paddock kissing gate ( 5 mins).
Turn left and walk along the mown vehicle route till you reach the the first gate on your left (10 mins).
Walk through gate and carry on along the LHS of the fence (volunteer planted areas on your left)
Enjoy stunning ridgeline views of he inner Hauraki Gulf
Carry on along the mown grass route till you arrive at the Mounument Lookout for a superb view aerial of Home Bay
Follow the mown grass track across Mounment Hill then down alongside the fenceline till you arrive at Home Bay stream
Crossing the stream delivers you onto the Home Bay campground and back to your start point

Click here for a summary of important information for our walking visitors

Exploring the Island

Your 2 hour self-guided walking tour of the Home Bay Valley
volunteer planted native forest and WWII Military sites

While reading the tour guide you might like to check out the route on our google map

Or click here to view our WalkMotutapu_map.pdf

This loop walk takes you from the Home Bay wharf, past the historic Reid homestead, up the Rotary Centennial Track through the volunteer planted native forest, includes an inspection of the WWII military structures then back down the Home Bay road to arrive back where you started.


Home Bay Forest

50 hectares of former farmland replanted by hundreds of volunteers starting in 1994. By 2015 the Home Bay replanting programme will reach the remnant Pohutukawa on the southern coastal headland (behind the camp ground toilet block)
Motutapu is 1509 hectares. The Trust's intention is to eventually replant 30% of the Island. This makes the project one of the largest long term restoration projects in the nation.
Your tour starts on the front lawn of the Reid Homestead. Built in 1901 and recently restored by the Trust, it is one of the very last surviving Hauraki Gulf early European homesteads.
Check to see if the Homestead is open. You can buy Motutapu Restoration Trust merchandise, pick up brochures and read all the interpretative material about an internationally significant ecological sanctuary in the making. There is also information about the early Maori and European settlers and WWII Military heritage.
Walk across the cattle stop and turn right. Follow the Home Bay road across the stream and through the farm gate. Continue past the 100 year old 'red' (more a rusty brown!) barn on your left recently restored by Newmarket Rotary as a base for MRT volunteers. (check out the new roof)
Look up left and you will see the graves of James and Eliza Reid on Monument Hill (James died in 1908. Eliza's grave is behind James. She died in 1942)
Stop and admire the exotic heritage Ombu tree on your right. A native of South America. The tree needs to be fenced as the sap is poisonous to cattle. It is fire resistant as the enlarged trunk stores water (sometimes called the elephant tree).
Continuing up Home Bay road you will see the planted wetland flats (winter 2008) on your LHS. All the area to the right of the fence line snaking up the hill above the flats has been planted out (also winter 2008).
You will see a set of four water tanks up ahead. There is a kissing gate which marks the entrance to the Rotary Centennial Track. The building of the track was funded by Rotary to celebrate Rotary's International Centennial in 2005
The walk through the volunteer forest along the Rotary Centennial Track takes around 30-40 minutes. It is an easy walk with gentle inclines. Take time to read the interpretive signage which describe a number of our planted species
Look out for the sign on the RHS half way up the track that indicates a short side track up to a WWII pillbox. This pillbox protected the approaches up the Home Bay valley in the event of a land assault from the rear on the counter bombardment Gun Battery.

Military Sites

Presently you will emerge out of the forest at the Northern Junction. Turn right and walk up to the pillbox (LHS) situated at the top of the junction. This was one of 17 built on Motutapu by the NZ Army in 1942 to protect the approaches to the Gun Battery.
Take time to read the large interpretive panel on the high ground prior to heading towards the sites. It features a photo of the very last test firing of the guns in the 1958 (They never were called upon to fire in anger).
Go through the gate to the RHS of the panel and head towards the Battery Observation Post complex. Mullet Bay is on your RHS. Note Rotary restoration plantings on the left and Project Crimson Pohutukawa plantings on the right hand side of this beautiful bay.
Check out the wireless room, radar room, battery observation post and gaze across at the gun emplacements, your next stop on the tour. Take time to read the interpretive panels.
Leaving the BOP complex, follow the fence line towards the Gun Battery and climb the stile into the adjacent field.
Please ensure you secure the gate behind you when entering the Battery. Three 6inch Mk21 guns were sited here from 1938 to 1962 (when they were dismantled and sold as scrap). This was ground zero during the tense days of 1942 when the nation was on invasion high alert. Motutapu was a restricted area, 600 men were stationed here during the war years, at times up to 1000 personnel.
Admire the view out over the Gulf from the top of the emplacements. If you have a torch, take the stairs down into the underground magazine below emplacement 3 (farthest away from the gate). Check out the shell room, the cartridge room and take a prowl along the humidity corridor.
Leaving the Battery, don't go back over the stile, instead, carry back along towards the interpretive sign at Northern Junction. The structures on the hill to your right are the miniature range, fortress and battery plotting rooms, engine room and wireless room. If you have time, go over and visit.
You will also note two tunnel entrances in the gully below the hill top structures. In late 1942 the decision was made to re-site the above ground plotting rooms underground for added security. The tunnels are partially flooded and are in the process of being drained and restored
You can now decide whether you wish to travel back down the Rotary Centennial Track to Home Bay or take the Home Bay road (quicker route)

This self guided tour should take around 2 hours, slightly longer if you plan to stop for lunch at the Gun Emplacements (good idea if it's a nice day to enjoy the fabulous views).

Please feel free to approach any of our friendly volunteers in and around Reid Homestead or working in the planted areas should you have any questions at all about the Motutapu Restoration Trust, its activities and objectives

Or you can always Contact Us

Getting There

You can get to Motutapu in any of the following ways:

Fullers Ferry
Own kayak
Own boat
Water Taxi
Walk across from Rangitoto
Home Bay, Motutapu. Restoration plantings can be seen up the valley to the right of the picture

The entire island is open to walkers and there are a number of well-maintained roads and tracks.
There is no transport available on the island.
Bring food, drink and everything else you might need for a great day in the BIG outdoors. There are no shops on the island.
Large parts of the island are a working farm - please ensure that you leave gates as you find them and do not disturb the stock. Some areas may be closed during lambing.
Click here for map.map3.jpg
Click here for a summary of important visitor information

Fullers Ferry

Fullers run scheduled ferry services to Rangitoto Wharf. From here it is a 60 minute walk to Islington Bay, a further 60 - 90 minute walk from the causeway will take you up over the hill and down into Home Bay Motutapu and the DoC camp ground. On scheduled volunteer days (1st, 3rd and 5th Sundays of the month) Fullers sail on to Home Bay wharf, Motutapu.


Fullers catarmaran approaching the Home Bay wharf. Why not jump on the Ferry on the volunteer dates. The boat leaves at 9.15am and departs Home Bay at 4.30pm in Summer (3.30pm in winter). You don't necessarily need to volunteer if you don't wish, just simply come out and spend an idyllic day on the island - swim, walk, explore, picnic, laze - its your call.

Special discounted fares apply on volunteer days for people volunteering (as a result of generous sponsorship from Fullers).Tickets and timetables from Fullers or phone 09-367 9111


Own Boat

Islington Bay at the northern end of Rangitoto, adjacent to the causeway, and Home Bay are popular anchorages for private boats. Link tracks to the main Walk Motutapu walkway can be joined at Mullet, Sandy, Station, Waikarapupu and Administration Bays.(see below for important biosecurity information)

Own Kayak

Motutapu is a favourite destination for recreational kayakers from Auckland, Waiheke and the North Shore. Home, Sandy, Station, Mullet and Waikarapupu Bays are popular landing places for kayakers (see below for important biosecurity information)


North western coast of Motutapu, Rakino island in background


Not recommended - its quite some way. Motuihe is 650mtrs away but the tides that flow in the channel between the islands prohibit visiting the island swimming from that direction. Experienced swimmers do swim from the mainland to Rangitoto, but these guys are legends.

Water Taxi

Auckland Water Taxis operate a water taxi service out of Auckland's Viaduct Basin in Downtown. They service all the islands of the Hauraki Gulf. They will deliver you to Home Bay, Motutapu or Islington Bay, Rangitoto (5 mins walk to the Causeway). Their water taxis can carry up to 16 passengers and it's usually a good idea to give them around 12-24hrs notice if requiring a taxi outside their normal shuttle timetable. They operate 24hrs a day, 7 days a week, 364 days of the year. There are 13 scheduled water taxi services to Islington ('Issy') Bay spread across Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat and Sundays. Click on the logo to find out about schedule times and prices.

ph: 0800 89 0007
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auckland water taxis

Walk in from Rangitoto

From Rangitoto wharf you have a number of walking options to Motutapu. The Islington Bay road will take you around 90 mins to arrive at the Causeway. The Coastal Track is more interesting but harder going. It will take you approx 2.5 hours to get to Islington Bay and the Causeway and the start of the Motutapu walkway. Once arrived at Islington Bay wharf on Rangitoto, the Causeway is only 5-10mins walk away.

The track from the Causeway up along the fencelines and around to Home Bay will take you another 90 minutes (I did the walk from Rangi Wharf to Home Bay on Labour Day Monday 26/10/09. Stepping it out fairly briskly, it took me just 2 hours carrying a small daypack. Believe,however, that you should still allow 3 hours for the journey particularly if you are carrying a large pack with camping gear. After leaving the wharf - when you catch your first glimpse of the rolling green hills of Motutapu between Rangitoto's pohutukawa cover you are halfway to the Causeway. Another indicator of the halfway point is when you pass the left turn road to the Rangitoto summit. This is where the Fullers road train turns left....ed)

Of course, you don't need to do this walk when Fullers operate to Home Bay Motutapu on public volunteer Sundays. Its a good workout however, and you get to experience Rangitoto's unique landscape and flora as well as fabulous views looking back at the city, Motuihe, Brown's Island, Waiheke from the fenceline walk on Motutapu en route to Home Bay.

Archaeological Sites

Motutapu is one of the earliest Maori settlement sites in the Auckland Region. The island was settled way more intensively than other islands in the Hauraki Gulf except for Motukorea (Browns Island). Ash from the Rangitoto eruption destroyed villages, gardens and forest but also provided a new wealth of rich ash modified soils enabling settlement to be re-established.

The island was visited between Rangitoto's ash showers as evidenced by the discovery of human and dog footprints in a block of eroded Rangitoto ash block discovered at the Sunde site on Motutapu's northern western shores

But even before the eruption of Rangitoto, Motutapu (Te Motutapu a Taikehu) had been the home of Maori for several generations. The name means the sacred island of Taikehu.

Over 370 Maori Archaeological sites recorded

  • The cultural landscape of the archaeological sites include pre- eruption archaic campsites and adze making sites
  • There are a number of significant pa sites on the island, together with numerous undefended settlements, terraced house sites, pits for storage, cooking areas, middens and stone working sites.
  • 372 sites have been recorded (as of May 2008) but is is likely many more subsurface deposits remain unrecorded. It is also highly likely that some sites will have been damaged or destroyed by farming or military activity. Refer a map of the sites (source: The Prehistory of New Zealand)
  • Settlement sites are spread across the whole island with some apparent clustering on the western leeward side and around the mountain and causeway stream catchments, open stream mouths and adjacent spurs.
  • The clustering around stream mouths and high number of distinct sites might suggest a rotational gardening system.

The Sunde Site - Motutapu's 'Pompeii'

The Sunde site discovery is one of the most aclaimed in New Zealand and has also aroused international interest. There is no known equivalent discovery anywhere else in New Zealand. The footprints have been dated as mid fifteenth century.

The Sunde site at West Point beach May 2010


The site was first discovered by archaeologist Rudi Sunde in 1958 when he noted a collection of artifacts that were eroding onto the beach. The area has been called the Sunde site ever since.

It is Motutapu's earliest recorded settlement, radio carbon dated to between 1250 and 1450

In 1981, Reg Nicol from Auckland University carried out more intensive excavations and found the footprints beneath the ash layer. The footprints were of an intrepid group of at least eight individuals (three children) and their dogs.

  • When people first settled here, the island was cloaked in native forest. They had quite a varied diet including fur seal, dog, tuatara, 25 species of bird, and fish (mainly snapper), but only 3 species of shellfish.
  • The excavations in 1970 located post molds, earth ovens (haangi) and hearths which all suggest an established hamlet.

Other facts about Sunde

  • A slab featuring the footprints and weighing around 250kg was removed from the site, blessed by Maori at a special ceremony 2nd Nov 2005 and lent to the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
  • Cultural material present both below and above the ash layer has provided valuable information about the timing of the eruption and its impact on Maori communities nearby.
  • It is also significant as an early adze manufacturing site. The early Maori residents may have come for the kai but they also came for the important local stone resource known as greywacke. The hard fine grained rock could be made into adzes and drill points which were important for fishhook production.
  • It is also one of the few surviving archaeological sites in the Auckland region dated from the inital period of Polynesian settlement and exploration of New Zealand.
  • The large quantity and range of artifacts recovered from the site suggests that the inhabitants were forced to flee during the Rangitoto eruption leaving behind many of their possessions.
  • No human remains have been found preserved under the ash layer so it is considered likely that they all managed to escape without any casualties. Likely they paddled their canoes to Waiheke, Motuihe or the mainland.
  • There is evidence that they returned, at least four times over several years, in between bursts of activity that sent showers of volcanic ash over the island.
  • The excavations in 1970 located post molds, earth ovens (haangi) and hearths which all suggest an established hamlet.

Gardening on Motutapu

The eruption of Rangitoto destroyed much of the island's forest but created a fertile soil for gardening. It is believed this was the main reason for the post eruptive settlements on the island. Kumara was probably the main crop and its cultivation is suggested in part by the large number of storage pits. Small patches of taro still grow in marshy areas and conditions here would have been suitable for gourd cultivations. Fern root may also have been encouraged, fragments of fern root have been identified from both storage pits and hearths.

Motutapu's most important conservation resource 

Motutapu is one of the largest , most diverse and easily accessed archaeological landscapes in the Auckland Region. The island has been the focus of some of the earliest systematic archaeological  surveys and investigations in New Zealand. The archaeology on Motutapu has contributed to important understandings of prehistory both at a national and regional level.

Archaeological sites and Pastoral Farming

Although farming has caused damage to sites in the past, pastoral farming carried out with proper understanding of the resource is one of the most satisfactory ways of preserving sites while enabling their surface features to be viewed.

Pastoral farming prevents the establishment of trees whose root action can lead to the eventual destruction of sites. The great majority of sites will continued to be managed under grazing. Other sites may be managed by establishing low growing native grasses such as Microlaena stipoides.



Important Bio-security Information for Visitors to Motutapu

With the pest eradication programme currently underway, visitors to Motutapu and Rangitoto need to observe new bio-security precautions. These include sealing bags and containers and checking for mice, insects, seeds and soil.

Find out more about bio-security precautions

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, part of New Zealand's newest and second largest pest free island sanctuary.

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)

Facilities & Activities

DoC Camp Site 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 = $5.00 per night, children = $2.50. Fullers Ferries operate ferries into Motutapu Home Bay wharf only on Motutapu Restoration Trust public volunteering Sundays. Click on this link:

Information and bookings contact the Department of Conservation Information Centre

Note that you can now book your Home Bay campsite online

And click on this link to view the various camping areas at Home Bay

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. We have a webpage which provides a lot more information on our neighbours at Administration Bay, click here

Motutapu Outdoor Education Centre Motutapu Outdoor Education Centre
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.

Things to do and see:

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