Introduction

The pest-free Mokohinau Islands lie 100 km north-east of Auckland. The islands are home to skink and muttonbird populations. Recreational activities include walking and diving.

Place overview

Activities

  • Bird and wildlife watching
  • Boating
  • Diving and snorkelling
  • Fishing
  • Pest free
    Protect our wildlife
    • Check - your gear for pests, eg. rodents, insects, skinks
    • Clean - footwear and gear, removing soil and seeds
    • Seal - ensure your gear is zipped up (no open bags)

    See island biosecurity requirements.

Find things to do Mokohinau Islands

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Grey-faced petrel, Mokohinau Islands. Photo: Terry C Greene.
Grey-faced petrel/oi, Mokohinau Island

Bird and wildlife watching

Burgess Island has a thriving red-crowned parakeet/kākāriki population. Tui and bellbird/korimako are also abundant. Grey-faced petrel/oi nest on the island and can be seen at sea feeding during the day.

Boating

The Mokohinau Islands provide a spectacular backdrop for boating. However, there are no safe anchorages, so it is best to plan to anchor overnight at another location. If you want to explore the island, the only safe landing point is on the south side of Burgess Island where the old wharf structure can be seen.

Diving and snorkelling

The waters round the Mokohinau Islands are remarkably clear, offering great diving and snorkelling. Features include large underwater pinnacles with deep drop offs. Dive tours are available from the mainland.

Fishing

You can fish off the rocks or the beach anywhere around the island’s coastline.

Historic appreciation

A lighthouse was established on Burgess Island in 1883. One of the most distant lighthouses in the Hauraki Gulf, the site was chosen to provide boats with a good landfall position when travelling to New Zealand from the Pacific. The lighthouse was one of the last to be automated, with the last lighthouse keepers leaving Burgess Island in 1980.

You can visit the lighthouse and historic sites associated with it, but there is no access into the lighthouse. It takes about 40 minutes to walk to the lighthouse from the landing at Burgess Island.

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    About this place

    Nature and conservation

    Aerial view of Knights Group of islands, Mokohinau Islands. Photo: Terry C Greene.
    Mokohinau Islands is a Treasure Island

    Burgess Island

    Burgess Island, the northernmost of the group and recognised by its lighthouse, is open to the public. Visitors are asked to be sensitive to the special conservation values of this small 50 ha island.

    The remainder of the islands (including Fanal, Flax and Trig Islands) and small stacks are nature reserves and protected wildlife sanctuaries, and landing is not permitted without a permit.

    Burgess Island, Mokohinau group.
    Burgess Island, Mokohinau group

    Most of Burgess (Pokohinu) Island is scenic reserve managed by the Department of Conservation; the remainder is Crown Land administered by the Ministry of Transport. There are no tracks or facilities on Burgess Island.

    Unique species

    Because of their isolated location at the edge of the continental shelf, the Mokohinau Islands are home for unique wildife species found nowhere else in New Zealand, or the world.

    The Mokohinau Islands Nature Reserves provide a safe refuge for some of New Zealand's smallest endangered species, including the Mokohinau skink, the robust skink, the Mokohinau stag beetle and several threatened plants. Several species of burrowing and ground-nesting seabirds find refuge on the islands, as do a range of forest birds.

    All exotic animal pests have been removed from the island group and the habitats are regenerating naturally. Making sure new animal and plant pests don't arrive on the islands is a major conservation focus. Due to the islands' remoteness, special care is also required to prevent fires.

    History and culture

    The islands were visited seasonally by early Maori to take grey-faced petrel (muttonbird) chicks which were preserved for later consumption. The Ngati Wai tribe retain muttonbirding privileges on the islands.

    Burgess Island as seen from Maori Bay Island.
    Burgess Island as seen from Maori Bay Island

    A lighthouse was established on Burgess Island in 1883. Successive lighthouse keepers grazed stock on the island group until the light was automated in the 1970s. The islands are now being allowed to regenerate naturally to indigenous forest.

    Visitors to Burgess Island can explore historic sites associated with the lighthouse and World War II military installations.

    Getting there

    This small group of rugged islands lies about 100 km northeast of Auckland and 25 km northwest of Great Barrier Island.

    There is no public ferry service to Burgess Island, but charter boats sometimes visit. There are no safe anchorages around the island.

    Know before you go

    • Burgess Island is the only island of the Mokohinau Islands group that you can land on.
    • No visitor facilities are available on the islands. 
    • Do not land on any of the other islands or rock stacks. Your actions could contribute to the extinction of a rare plant or animal specie

    Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park bylaws apply. Do not light fires, or remove/disturb plants and artefacts. No bicycles or pets. Take your rubbish with you – there are no rubbish bins.

    Some activities require a permit, such as weddings and events.

    Contacts

    Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland Visitor Centre
    Phone:   +64 9 3796476
    Address:   Shed 19
    137 Princes Wharf
    Auckland 1010
    Email:   aucklandvc@doc.govt.nz
    Full office details
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