Kelp forest off southeast coast of Rakitu Island

Image: Kim Westerskov | ©


Rakitu Island Scenic Reserve lies off the north east coast of Great Barrier Island, in the Hauraki Gulf. It contains areas of native forest and is home to a diverse population of native birds.


Covering 329 ha, Rakitu's sheer cliffs rise 180 meters from the sea in places, giving it an imposing fortress-like appearance. Rakitu Island became a Scenic Reserve in 1994 after being purchased by DOC, with Natural Heritage Fund assistance, from the Rope family.

The island's native flora and fauna are great attractions for day trips. Be aware there are strict biosecurity requirements in place following the eradication of rats in 2018.

No dogs allowed on Bay of Islands and Hauraki Gulf island reserves

No dogs.

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

Place overview


  • Bird and wildlife watching
  • Boating
  • Diving and snorkelling
  • Fishing
  • Kayaking and canoeing

Find things to do and places to stay Rakitu Island Scenic Reserve

About this place

Nature and conservation

The eradication of rats from Rakitu Island was carried out during the winter of 2018. Without predators, the island’s already rich plant and wildlife will only continue to flourish. Visitors to the island should take special note of the biosecurity requirements to ensure the island remains pest-free.

The vegetation of Rakitu is made of retired farmland, and forest of mānuka, kānuka and coastal pōhutukawa. The flora of Rakitu features large leaved forms of rangiora and kawakawa. Like nearby Great Barrier and Little Barrier Islands, Rakitu has a remarkable diversity of lichens.

Many native birds occupy the island’s forest and coastal areas.

History and culture

Rakitu is a taonga to Ngāti Rehua-Ngatiwai ki Aotea people. It is the final resting place of the founding tupuna Rehua.

It is one of a number of sacred islands such as Mokohinau and Hauturu-o-Toi. These other islands have been eradicated of pests for some years, so are thriving with life and taonga species. Ngāti Rehua-Ngatiwai ki Aotea are committed to restoring the mauri of Rakitu. The recent eradication of rats is the first step in establishing a sanctuary for our seabirds and other taonga species.

Ngāti Rehua-Ngatiwai ki Aotea people cleared and cultivated the central valley. There are historic sites including a pa (earthwork fortifications) and several kainga (settlement) and whare (dwelling) sites.

Rakitu was purchased from the Rope family in 1993. Europeans settlers grazed cattle on Rakitu for more than a century, before the Rope family stopped grazing in 2013.

Getting there

Rakitu Island Scenic Reserve is 2.5 kilometres off Great Barrier's eastern coast.

You must find your own boat transport to Rakitu. The only safe landing spot is the sandy shore of Arid Cove on the north-western side of the island.

Know before you go

  • Help to make Rakitu a pest-free island by checking your boat or kayak thoroughly for pests, soil and seeds – before you leave and between islands in the gulf.
  • Keep pest bait/traps on your boat of kayak, and where it is stored.
  • Leave your pet at home or on your boat
  • For safety reasons make sure you let others know you're visiting the island. 
  • There are no visitor facilities on the island.
  • The island's former owners still visit on the island, so respect residential areas.

Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park bylaws apply. Do not light fires (including barbeques), or remove/disturb plants and artefacts. No bicycles or pets. Take your rubbish with you – there are no rubbish bins. Rules apply to the land and extend to the lowest point reached by a low tide.

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


Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 9 379 6476
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   Shop2, Shed 19, Princes Wharf
137 Princes Wharf
Auckland 1010
Postal Address:   PO Box 105 469
Auckland City 1143
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