Bird and wildlife watching
Gardiners Gap is the best place to spot shorebirds such as the New Zealand dotterel and sometimes shore plovers and Caspian terns. The best time to see these birds 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 where you walk on the beach to avoid crushing their well camouflaged eggs.
Home Bay forest is the best place for seeing forest birds on Motutapu. Birds you might be able to spot include korimako/bellbird, tui, kakariki/red-crowned parakeet, tieke/saddleback, popokatea/whitehead, Coromandel brown kiwi, spotless crake, kotare/kingfisher and kereru/wood pigeon. You may also be able to see takahe in the Home Bay area. Please do not feed the takahe or other birds.
WW II observation post, Motutapu Island
Motutapu is a popular destination for boaties. Small boats can be landed on many of the beaches around the island such as Islington Bay, Home Bay or Station Bay, and these spots also provide sheltered anchorages. Larger boats can land at the Home Bay Wharf on Motutapu or the Islington Bay Wharf on Rangitoto Island, where you can walk across the causeway to Motutapu.
Child/family friendly activities
Take the family on a picnic to Home Bay and carry on the tradition of picnicking there that started in early twentieth century. Ferries run direct to the Home Bay Wharf during the summer months, making it an easy family day out. Home Bay has a safe swimming beach and the added feature of the historic Reid Homestead, now a Visitors Centre.
You can fish off the rocks or the beach anywhere round the island’s coastline. However, fishing is discouraged in Administration Bay, adjacent to the Motutapu Outdoor Education Centre, as it is a voluntary no take fishing area.
During its varied past Motutapu has been intensively settled and cultivated by Maori, hosted Victoria picnic parties of over 10,000 people, and at times during WWII was a base for more than 1,000 military personnel.
Remnants of this varied history can still be seen including sites of kainga (villages), pa (earthwork fortifications), kumara storage pits, former gardens, and middens (food refuge deposits). You can also visit the Reid Homestead, one of the last of the early farmhouses on the island and now a Visitors Centre, and explore WWII sites.
Runners competing in the DUAL multisport event
Motutapu is accessible to experienced kayakers. It takes about three hours to kayak to Home Bay from the mainland. You can also kayak to Motutapu from the nearby islands of Motuihe 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.
DUAL multisport event
The DUAL multisport event is usually held in March each year. It offers participants trail run and walk, an off-road triathlon and mountain bike options – the only time you will be able to bike on the island!
Outdoor education centre
The Motutapu Outdoor Education Camp is located in Administration Bay. It offers outdoor education programmes for school groups, as well as corporate team building events, or just a place to stay for a group of family and friends.
You can swim at one of the many beaches around the island. A popular choice is Home Bay, where you can also find the island’s only campsite, the 1901 Reid Homestead and various WWII military remains. A number of Motutapu’s walkways can also be accessed from Home Bay.