Motuora Island: Places to go in Auckland

Motuora Island
Image: | DOC


Come to pest-free Motuora for a picnic, or camp for the night. It's possible to hear and sometimes see (at night) North Island brown kiwi here.


Enjoy the beautiful beaches, secluded picnic spots, and clear waters. There are several walking tracks, with chances to see a variety of native wildlife including kiwi.

No dogs allowed on Hauraki Gulf island reserves

No dogs.

To protect our native species, dogs are not allowed on island conservation reserves in the Hauraki Gulf.

Place overview


  • Bird and wildlife watching
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Kayaking and canoeing
  • Swimming
  • Walking and tramping
  • Pest free
    Protect our wildlife
    • Check - your gear for pests, eg. rodents, insects, skinks
    • Clean - footwear and gear, removing soil and seeds
    • Seal - ensure your gear is zipped up (no open bags)

    See island biosecurity requirements.

Find things to do and places to stay Motuora Island

About track difficulties

Bird and wildlife watching

A visit to Motuora overnight will give you the chance to hear, and possibly spot, a North Island brown kiwi. The island is used as a kiwi crèche, with a healthy breeding population now established.

Other species to look out for include:

  • whitehead/popokatea in forested areas of the island
  • shore skinks, best spotted at Home Bay
  • New Zealand dotterels on the foreshore
  • brown teal/pateke that have self introduced, seen around the dam
  • dolphins and orca that sometimes cruise past


Still Bay, Motuora Island.
Still Bay, Motuora Island

Motuora is a popular place for boaties with sheltered anchorages at either Home Bay on the western side of the island or Still Bay on the eastern side, depending on the prevailing wind.

Child/family friendly activities

With its small beachside campground and bach, Motuora is a great place to take the family camping during the summer. The island’s small size mean some of the tracks are an achievable distance for young families. In particular try a walk to Still Bay.

Diving and snorkelling

The clear waters surrounding Motuora make it an excellent place to go snorkelling or diving. The best place to see marine life is at Still Bay


You can fish off the rocks or the beach anywhere round the island’s coastline.

It takes 1-1.5 hours to paddle from the mainland to Motuora Island. Note that the stretch of water between the mainland and Motuora is open water and can get rough and windy, so is not suitable for complete beginners. Land your kayak at Home Bay, a sandy beach on the western side of the island.


Motuora has sandy beaches perfect for swimming including Home Bay next to the campground, and Still Bay and Pohutukawa Bay on the eastern side of the island.

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    About this place

    Nature and conservation

    Motuora is an 80 ha island in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. Much of the original coastal forest and shrubland vegetation was cleared long ago by Maori and European occupants leaving remnant pohutukawa and karo/mahoe scrub growing on coastal cliffs.

    In 1990 the local community, the Mid-North Branch of the Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society, and DOC joined forces to restore Motuora Island.

    The Motuora Restoration Society (established in 1995 and made up of volunteers) has led a replanting programme which is now almost complete and continues to work to restore the natural values of the island.

    Motuora Restoration Society website

    Pest-free haven

    Motuora has remained free of mammalian predators despite the island's long history of occupation and farming. There are no rats, mustelids (stoats, ferrets or weasels) or feral cats. 

    The island is a crèche for young kiwi chicks raised under the Operation Nest Egg (ONE) programme. A resident healthy population of approximately 100-150 birds remain on Motuora.

    Whitehead, Pycrofts petrels and diving petrels have also been reintroduced to the island, along with Duvaucel's geckos, shore skinks and wetapunga (giant weta).

    In July 2010 a "fake colony" of gannet decoys was installed on Motuora. Since then, real gannets have been attracted to the site and in 2012 began to nest.

    Getting there

    Access to Motuora is by private boat, water taxi or kayak.

    Private boat

    If arriving by boat there are several safe anchorages including Home Bay on the western side of the island and Still Bay on the eastern side.

    Water taxi/charter boat services

    There is no ferry service to Motuora. However, you can organise a water taxi or charter boat. Water taxis are available from Sandspit Wharf near Warkworth, about one and a half hour's drive north of Auckland.


    Motuora is within kayaking distance from the mainland. It takes approximately 1.5 hours to kayak to the island from the main access points in the Mahurangi area. Several kayak operators offer kayak rentals and guided kayak tours to Motuora.

    Know before you go

    • There is nowhere to buy food and drink on Motuora.
    • Bring insect repellent for sandflies.
    • Follow the signs and stay away from shore bird nesting areas.
    • Avoid walking over newly planted areas.
    • Smoking is only permitted on the beach and in the campground.

    Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park bylaws apply. Do not light fires, or remove/disturb plants and artefacts. No bicycles or pets. Take your rubbish with you – there are no rubbish bins.

    Some activities require a permit, such as weddings and events.


    Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland Visitor Centre
    Phone:   +64 9 3796476
    Address:   Shed 19 Princes Wharf
    137 Quay Street
    Auckland 1010
    Full office details
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