People exploring around Mansion House
Image: Christine Cumiskey | DOC

Introduction

The iconic Mansion House is the former home of Sir George Grey and has an impressive collection of antique furnishings. The surrounding gardens are available as a venue for weddings or other events, and a nearby café is a catering option.

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Dogs are not allowed on island reserves in the Bay of Islands and Hauraki Gulf.

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Description

Mansion House is a two-storey large building built in 1845 and is a registered Category 1 Historic Place. The property has additional significance because the dwelling has been preserved along with its original setting, and the jetty built for Sir George Grey in 1875.

Mansion House sits on Kawau Island. This island has gardens and tracks which are open to the public.

History of Mansion House.

Facilities and services

Mansion House is open to the public.

The grounds of Mansion House can serve as a venue for weddings and other events, for which you need a permit. The Mansion House café is located on the other side of the valley and is a catering option for events.

Opening times

October to May

  • Monday and Tuesday: Closed (except 27 and 28 December when open 12 pm to 2 pm)
  • Wednesday to Friday: 12 pm to 2 pm
  • Saturday, Sunday and public holidays: 12 pm to 3 pm
  • Closed Christmas Day 

June to September

  • Monday to Friday: Closed
  • Saturday and Sunday: 12 pm to 2 pm

Mansion House can also be made available for group bookings any time. See bookings for groups.

Fees

You need to pay a fee to enter Mansion House. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

  • 16+ years old: $10
  • Children free with a paying adult, with a maximum of 4 children per paying adult.

We accept payment by eftpos and credit card. No cash or cheque.

Booking for groups

You need to book if your group is going to be 10 people or more. Booking helps us plan to support the trip.

Contact the ranger or book online at least 7 days before you plan to visit.

Book a group visit to Mansion House.

Email: kawauisland@doc.govt.nz

Getting there

Water taxis and ferries

Water taxis and ferries travel to Kawau Island daily from Sandspit Wharf near Warkworth, about one and a half hour's drive north of Auckland.

Find authorised transport operators to this island.

Private boat

Kawau Island has long been a favourite destination for boaties thanks to its numerous bays which provide shelter from almost any weather. The 45k m journey from Westhaven Marina in downtown Auckland takes approximately an hour, making it close enough to visit for a day trip, and an ideal weekend getaway. From Sandspit or Mahurangi, located less than 12 km away, the journey is even shorter.

There are plenty of options for anchorage, from the white sandy beaches on the northern end to the sheltered Bon Accord Harbour, which almost bisects the island from the west. The Kawau Boating Club is located here. 

If visiting the Kawau Island Historic Reserve, Mansion House Bay has a sandy and stony beach ideal for drop offs by dinghy and tender. Small runabout boats can anchor close and take a mooring line to the beach. It is drop off and pick up only at the Mansion House historic jetty which is frequented by commercial ferries. ​

Dogs are prohibited in Kawau Island Historic Reserve.

Moorings on Kawau Island

  • Bon Accord Harbour: almost bisects the island from the west and has good holding power with the exception of strong westerlies resulting in significant wave action.
  • Two House Bay and Mansion Bay: ideal in a south-westerly.
  • Stockyard Bay: has good anchorage in northerlies and an attractive sandy beach. 
  • North Cove: has good anchorage but tends to fill up quickly.
  • Vivian Bay: exposed and prone to a roll.  
  • East coast anchorages: only suitable in settled weather or as a daytime anchorage.
  • Bosanquet (Bostaquet) Bay: only suitable anchorage on the south coast but prone to a lift when a significant swell Is running.
  • North Cove: Private moorings available.
  • Smelting House Bay: private mooring for the Royal New Zealand Yacht Club and Kawau Boat Club.

Before you depart, check the marine forecast as the journey between Auckland and Kawau can be choppy on windy days.

Exercise courtesy when going ashore. Kawau Island is privately owned and the landowners enjoy riparian rights (access to the water's edge).

Know before you go

Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park bylaws apply

  • Dogs are not allowed in Kawau Island Historic Reserve to protect kiwi and weka.
  • Fires and portable barbeques are not allowed except on the permanent barbeque provided onsite.
  • Take your rubbish with you – there are no rubbish bins.
  • Some activities such as weddings need a permit.
  • No camping unless at a designated campsite.

Read the full by-laws.

Take care on the tracks

The mature pine trees can fall or drop branches especially in windy conditions.


All drone use must be authorised by DOC

A concession is required to fly a drone on any public conservation land.


Conservation work

Conservation plans for Mansion House and the jetty identify remedial work needed to arrest causes of deterioration. The work has been prioritised and is progressively being implemented. Where possible, the house is being returned to its appearance as it was about 1890, soon after Sir George Grey sold the island.  

A similar plan has been prepared for the gardens. Restoration of the gardens represents a significant opportunity to enhance the experience of visitors. A conservation plan has also been prepared for the smelting house, whose stabilisation and repairs have been carried out by DOC.

Contact

Kawau Island Historic Reserve
Phone:   +64 212 899 500
Email:   kawauisland@doc.govt.nz
Address:   5 Schoolhouse Bay Road Kawau Island 0920
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