Located in the Canterbury region
Easy grades make the walks on this island suitable for small children and family groups.
Discover Quail Island (PDF, 1,006K)
At the northern point of the island there is a bird observation barricade.
Birds such as black-backed/karoro and red-billed gulls/tarāpunga, white-flippered penguins/kororā, terns, shags and oystercatchers are often seen from the observation point. Fantails/pīwakawaka and grey warblers/riroriro are present on the island.
Banks Peninsula tree weta have recently been transferred to the island. You may see custom-built weta homes attached to the trunks of manuka trees.
Ōtamahua/Quail Island lies within Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour, close to Christchurch City.
Black Cat Cruises operates a regular ferry service from Lyttelton Wharf. Ensure you know when the last ferry leaves Quail Island to get back to Lyttelton. Once you’ve booked, you'll get a discount code for Black Cat Cruises. Black Cat Cruises schedule and fees.
Alternatively, you can make your own way to the Island by canoe, kayak or private boat.
Whakamaru (Swimmers) beach, Skiers Beach or Walkers Beach are the recommended places to land/launch canoes or kayaks. There is also plenty of room to pull up a boat. Care is required as these areas will be shallow or mud flats at low tide. The majority of the island’s coast is unsuitable for landings. Check the weather forecast before you leave for the island.
The wharf is not suitable for overnight mooring.
If fire breaks out on the Island:
Overnight camping on the island is available for approved groups at Whakamaru Beach (swimmers beach), and Skiers Beach. Email DOC Ōtautahi / Christchurch Visitor Centre with your:
Overnight camping is subject to availability, we will contact you to confirm your stay.
The island is 81 ha in area, with a high point of 86 metres. It lies in the flooded crater of an extinct volcano - Te Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour.
There were two rock quarries on the island. The columnar basaltic rock was used as ballast by early sailing ships returning home without cargo. Rhyolite stone was also quarried from above Walkers Beach by ‘hard labour gangs’ of prisoners brought over from the mainland. The stone was used to build walls and terraces along the foreshore which can be still seen today.
Birds such as black-backed/karoro and red-billed gull/tarāpunga, white-flippered penguins/kororā, terns, shags and oystercatchers are often seen from the observation point. Fantails/pīwakawaka and grey warblers/ iroriro are present on the island.
Banks Peninsula tree weta have recently been transferred to the island - you may see custom-built weta homes attached to the trunks of manuka trees.
On warm summer days you’re likely to spot resident lizards like geckos and skinks.
The Ōtamahua/Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust and DOC are working to establish native vegetation and re-introduce native wildlife. A maintained network of traps protects the island from introduced predators, with the exception of mice. The island has been free of possums, rabbits, cats, hedgehogs, mustelids and rats since 2006.
Ōtamahua/Quail Island is a place rich in history and culture and boasts a number of local, and national historic sites. See history of Ōtamahua/Quail Island.
Ōtumahua or Quail Island is a short ferry ride from Lyttelton. This video shows its colourful history including some special stories of our most important Antarctic explorers.
Ōtumahua or Quail Island, sits like a jewel, safely tucked away in Lyttleton Harbour. Watch this video to discover how the community are protecting the wildlife there.
This isolated island in Lyttelton Harbour is the ultimate day trip! Rich in history; sea birds; Hector’s dolphins; skinks, fascinating geology; beach swimming and shady picnic spots; plus a magic harbour boat trip.
When visiting pest free islands, or islands that are becoming pest-free, make sure you check your gear before you leave the mainland.