Bird and wildlife watching
The Motuihe Trust is undertaking a restoration project in partnership with DOC and a number of rare species have been released on the island. Birds such as tieke/saddleback can be seen and heard near the campground. Kakariki/red-crowned parakeet can be seen flying above open areas. You may also encounter flocks of popokatea/whitehead on the island.
Little spotted kiwi can be heard at night in bush areas and sometimes spotted. Remember to cover your torch with red cellophane if out kiwi spotting. You may see shore skinks bathing in the sun on rocks on the eastern beaches.
Motuihe is also a popular site for shore birds including the endangered New Zealand dotterel/tūturiwhatu. The best time to see shorebirds is from mid-winter on when pairs move back to their nesting sites. Nesting usually begins in September.
Stay well away from birds during their nesting season and take care when you walk on the beach to avoid crushing their well-camouflaged eggs.
Motuihe has long been a popular destination for boaties. Small boats can be landed at either Ocean Beach, Wharf Bay or Calypso Bay, and these spots also provide sheltered anchorages. Larger boats can land at the wharf on the northern end of the island. However, the wharf can only be used for drop offs and pick ups; you cannot lay alongside the wharf.
Child/family friendly activities
With its safe beaches, easy terrain and interesting wildlife and history, Motuihe makes for a great family day out. Fullers and 360 Discovery ferries run to the island, with daily trips during the peak Christmas/New Year period. Check with each ferry company to confirm sailing times.
Make the most of the several picnic grounds at the northern end of the island, with changing sheds and toilets nearby. Gas barbeques can be brought to the island, but open fires and fireworks aren’t permitted.
You can fish off the rocks or the beach anywhere round the island’s coastline.
Each of Motuihe's many layers of history are still evident today. There are many archaeological sites which reflect Motuihe's pre-European past. Visitors to the island can also see the remains of the quarantine station including the great water tower (now an iconic landmark for Auckland's boating community), the historic cemetery and the military installations.
Motuihe is accessible to experienced kayakers. It takes about two and a half hours to kayak to Wharf Bay from the mainland.
You can also kayak to Motuihe from the nearby islands of Motutapu or Waiheke, or as part of a tour of the islands of the Hauraki Gulf. Auckland Sea Kayaks rents kayaks and organises guided tours to Motutapu
Picnics, weddings and other events
Motuihe has several sites available for large group picnics.
With its great beaches and large picnic spots only a short walk from the wharf, Motuihe is an excellent place to hold a picnic event or wedding.
With two safe beaches just metres apart, Motuihe is a great place for swimming. Choose your beach depending on the wind, sandy Ocean Beach to the north or Wharf Bay on the opposite side of the isthmus. Picnic spots, toilets and changing facilities are available nearby.