Ōtamahua hut

Image: Vanessa Mander | DOC


Ōtamahua Hut is a bookable 12-bunk serviced hut on Ōtamahua/Quail Island.

Hut overview


  • Category


  • Bookings

Bookings required


  • Heating
  • Toilets - flush
  • Water from tap - treated, suitable for drinking
12 bunk beds

About this hut


The hut was built between 1910 and 1920 for the animal quarantine station caretaker by the Department of Agriculture. It was used as a caretaker’s cottage up until the early 1980s. Between 1906 and 1925, the caretakers provided cooked food for the lepers. In 1982, the hut was converted into the island’s interpretation centre.

The interpretation panels are now housed in the Immigrant Barracks on Whakamaru Beach (Swimmers Beach).

Getting there

Black Cat Cruises operates a regular ferry service from Lyttelton Wharf between October and April (groups must book). A weekend only service runs between April and September. Ensure you know when the last ferry leaves Quail Island to get back to Lyttelton.

Once you’ve booked your stay in the new hut you will get a code entitling you to a discount with Black Cat Cruises.

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 a boat up. 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.

The wharf is not suitable for overnight mooring (as per signage).

Ōtamahua Hut is an easy 15 minute walk from the wharf.



  • Adult (18+ years): $15 per night
  • Youth (11 - 17 years): $7.50 per night
  • Child/Infant: (0 - 10 years): free


Book online, or to use a Backcountry Hut Pass or hut tickets as payment book through the DOC Ōtautahi/Christchurch Visitor Centre.

Know before you go

  • Toilets are located at Ōtamahua Hut, Whakamaru Beach (Swimmers Beach) and Skiers Beach.
  • Treated water is available from the taps located at the hut and Whakamaru beach. This water is sourced from Christchurch's treated supply and can be consumed from the tap.
  • Most track surfaces on the Island are evenly graded or grassed, but sturdy footwear is recommended.
  • The Island contains a number of unmarked tracks used by the Ōtamahua / Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust for planting access - stay on sign-marked tracks to avoid stepping on new plants and for your own personal safety.
  • Carry adequate clothing and be prepared for sudden changes in the weather – parts of the Island are exposed.
  • There are steep unfenced cliffs. Small children should be kept under close supervision at all times.
  • There is a danger of windfall or treefall in high or gusty wind conditions.
  • Mobile reception is available on the island. 


Overnight camping is available at Whakamaru Beach (swimmers beach) and Skiers Beach for approved groups. For enquiries and booking contact the Ōtautahi /Christchurch Visitor Centre.

Ōtamahua/Quail Island is at times subject to extreme fire danger

If fire breaks out on the Island:

  • head to the nearest beach or coastal area, if it is safe to do so.
  • if you have a mobile, dial 111 for fire.

Look after the island

  • No open fires
  • No animals, including dogs
  • No unauthorised vehicles, including mountain bikes
  • No firearms
  • All wildlife, plants, and natural and historic features are protected. Be respectful and keep to the tracks.
  • Take home all your rubbish.
  • Bait stations and predator traps are in use at all time. Read the warning signs on the wharf and around the Island.

Protect our wildlife

  • Check - your gear for pests, eg rodents, insects, skinks.
  • Clean - footwear and gear, removing soil and seeds.


Ōtautahi / Christchurch Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 379 4082
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   christchurchvc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   28 Worcester Boulevard
Christchurch 8013
Postal Address:   Private Bag 11089
Christchurch 8443
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