Visit sites where some of New Zealand's ill-fated settlements have stood including Tongariro Farm Site, Mangapurua Valley Soldiers Settlement and Jamestown Settlement.

Immigrants came to New Zealand in search of a better life, many with a vision of owning a farm. Naturally the best land was settled first, but still the immigrants came. They held a widespread belief that most land could and should be put to some form of productive use. It was considered wasteful not to use land and consequently the Government officially classified unused land as ‘waste land’.

As much land as possible was cleared of its indigenous vegetation by burning and developed for farms. As settlement progressed more and more marginal land was developed. Grass was not a sustainable ecosystem on this land. Typically bracken fern quickly encroached and repeated burn-offs were required to support grass. Slips began to occur and caused erosion and downstream flooding.

For many such areas it was the Great Depression that finally drove off the last persistent farmers. Nature has quickly reclaimed these areas.

The following sites, managed by DOC, can be visited and represent the ill fated settlements theme:



  • Mangapurua Valley Soldiers Settlement, Whanganui River, 1919 - 1943
  • Bridge to Nowhere, Mangapurua Valley, 1936

East Coast/Hawke's Bay


  • Opepe Redoubt Historic Site, Opepe Historic Reserve, 1869


  • Hardwicke Settlement and Cemetery, Auckland Islands, 1850
  • Port William Settlement, Stewart Island, 1870
  • Jamestown Settlement, Martin’s Bay, 1870
  • Cromarty, Preservation Inlet, 1890
  • Te Oneroa, Preservation Inlet, 1894
  • William Stewart’s Shipbuilding and Settlement Site, Port Pegasus, Stewart Island, 1897.
  • Port Craig Sawmill Settlement, 1925

Related link

Our People Our Century - A Piece of Land (documentary, 2000)

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