Walks on Matiu/Somes Island offer excellent bird watching opportunities as well as the chance to study other plants and animals enjoying the pest-free environment. You can also delve into the island's fascinating history or bring a picnic and stop at the numerous benches and picnic tables to stop and enjoy the views.
On arrival at the main wharf and toilets, and after undergoing the biosecurity checks and a short introduction to the island, most visitors will follow the the tar sealed road up to the Matiu/Somes Island Visitor Centre. This is a steep 15 min climb up towards the northern tip of the island and the former Te Moana-a-kura pa site, which offers excellent views of the Hutt Valley. As you continue to climb you will pass the memorial area and cemetery where some of the early immigrants who were quarantined on the island are buried. You reach the visitor centre and toilets at a height of 45 m.
Tracks and walks
Bird and wildlife watching
Kayaking and canoeing
These are generally taken by our volunteer Eastbourne Forest Rangers and cover the fascinating multi-layered history of the island as well as the historic and biodiversity conservation which is taking place now. They also increase your chance of finding some of the rare and rather shy wildlife, and include a tour inside the maximum security quarantine station.
- Minimum group number is three
- Guided walks can take between 1.5 - 2 hrs depending on group size, fitness, time on the island and interests.
- During summer weekends and public holidays, guided walks depart from the wharf at 11am and 1pm, depending on guide availability. Anyone is welcome to join. Payment is in cash only.
- 11am weekend guided walks for small groups (up to 10) can be booked online.
- At any other time or for larger groups, guided walks must be booked at least two weeks in advance via the DOC Wellington Visitor Centre Ph: +64 4 384 7770 or email firstname.lastname@example.org These walks can start between 11:00 am and 12:30 pm on weekdays.
- Cost: $10 per adult, $2 per child. School groups: $2 per child, adults free. Group discounts are available.
Bird and wildlife watching
A variety of native animals have been reintroduced to the island, including red-crowned parakeet/kākāriki, which are very visible and vocal around the island; reptiles, including the ancient tuatara; Cook Strait giant weta and Wellington tree weta, which have their own motels, and the inquisitive North Island robin, which may oblige for a photo if you meet one on a track.Find out about the plants and animals on the island.
You can camp on Matiu/Somes Island, but booking is essential. Find out about camping on the island.
There are easy day walk tracks on the island as well as plenty of picnic tables and lookouts on offer for an enjoyable day out with the family.
Explore remnants from both world wars, historic quarantine buildings, the lighthouse, artefacts from the island's past, and pause at the monument to those who died while confined on the island.Find out more about the island's history.
Matiu/Somes Island is a great destination for a day out paddling on the harbour. Find out about the rules for landing on the island before setting out.
Don't forget to bring your camera with you to the island as there are plenty of lookouts and viewpoints from where you can capture a panoramic perspective of Wellington city and surrounds. Keep your eyes peeled as you make your way along the tracks and you may be rewarded with a photo opportunity of a tuatara basking in the sun, a giant weta, or an inquisitive North Island robin!
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