Historic Fort Jervois, Ripapa Island

Note: Fort Jervois is closed indefinitely due to earthquake damage.

The quarantine station

Ripapa Island was used as a quarantine station for new immigrants from 1873 to 1885. In 1880 the Island was used temporarily as a prison for 150 of Te Whiti’s followers, transported from Taranaki. The quarantine buildings were dismantled when the Island was incorporated into the coastal defence scheme.

Fort Jervois, Ripapa Island. Photo: RNZAF Official, via Air Force Museum, Chirstchurch.
RNZAF aerial photo of Fort Jervois taken in 1937

The fort

Ripapa Island was one of four sites used for the Lyttleton Harbour defences, part of the nationwide system of coastal defences, built in response to the perceived "Russian scare".

The walled fort, dating from 1886, survives today and is the most complete "Russian scare" fort in New Zealand. Of particular significance are two large disappearing guns, still virtually complete, which very rare examples of their kind.

The fort was occupied by the army until the end of World War I and re-occupied again during World War II. The Island has been managed by the Department of Conservation since 1990. All periods of the Island’s use enhance its historical significance and appeal.

Historic conservation

Ripapa Island is registered Category 1 by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust and an historic reserve. It has been given an "actively managed" status by the Department of Conservation.

A concept plan for the island approved by the Historic Places Trust outlines policies for the fort’s continued protection and preservation. The Department is progressively repairing the deterioration in the fort's condition over the past 100 years.

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