Alongside its sheltered white sandy beaches, Motuihe also boasts rocky platforms, native forest and rolling pasture.
The island is free of animal pests and is home to the endangered New Zealand dotterel, saddleback, kakariki, kiwi, shore skinks, bellbirds and tuatara.
DOC's future management of the island as a public reserve will be guided by a Conservation Management Plan (the Tāmaki Makaurau motu plan) that will be jointly approved by Ngā Mana Whenua and the Auckland Conservation Board.
The Motuihe Trust is running a restoration project in partnership with DOC, with the aim of reforesting parts of the island, returning native birds, lizards and insects, conserving historic features and developing tracks and visitor facilities. Since 2003 volunteers have grown and planted thousands of trees on the island.
The Motuihe Trust have released a number of rare species onto the island including North Island Saddleback (tieke) in 2005 followed iby kakariki (red-crowned parakeet) in 2008 and shore skinks the following year. Little spotted kiwi were released in 2009 and 2010, and bellbirds were returned to the island in 2010. In March 2012, 60 tuatara were released onto the island, from Lady Alice island in Northland. Rare plants are also being returned to the island as part of the planting programme. These have included shore spurge (also known as euphorbia) and a rare fireweed.
The reintroduction programme will continue over the coming years. Some species may return naturally as the planting programme progresses. This is only possible because the island is free of mammalian pests. DOC eradicated Norway rats and mice in 1997 and cats and rabbits have also been removed. Visitors to the island are asked to help keep Motuihe free of pests and weeds so these species can thrive.
Motuihe's shores are also home for two threatened shorebird species, the NZ dotterel and the variable oystercatcher. Little blue penguins also breed on the island.