Located in the Wellington/Kapiti region
Matiu Somes Island is owned by local iwi (Taranaki Whānui) following a Treaty settlement. It is governed by a Kaitiaki Board and managed by DOC. See the Wellington Harbour Islands Kaitiaki Plan.
Guided walks are usually taken by our volunteer Eastbourne Forest Rangers.
They cover the fascinating multi-layered history of the island as well as the historic and biodiversity conservation which is taking place now. The walks also increase your chance of finding some of the rare and shy wildlife.
Matiu/Somes Island offers excellent views, bird watching opportunities as well as the chance to study other plants and animals enjoying the pest-free environment.
A variety of native animals have been reintroduced to the island, including red-crowned parakeet/kākāriki, which are very visible and vocal around the island; reptiles, including the ancient tuatara; Cook Strait giant weta and Wellington tree weta, which have their own motels.
Matiu/Somes Island is a great destination for a day out paddling on the harbour. Find out about the rules for landing on the island before setting out.
The historic Caretakers Cottage can be hired as a basic conference-type facility.
You can get to Matiu/Somes Island on the scheduled ferry service which runs between Queens Wharf and Days Bay seven days a week, and from Seatoun on Saturday and Sundays.
We highly recommend groups of more than 20 people, and those staying overnight, book a place on the ferry. In severe weather conditions one or both ferries can be cancelled.
If you plan to arrive by private boat or kayak, find out about the rules for landing on the island.
Since pests were eradicated the island has become a sanctuary for native plants, birds, reptiles and invertebrates including tuatara, kakariki, North Island robin, little blue penguins and weta. Read about nature and conservation on Matiu/Somes Island.
It may be a small island but its place in New Zealand’s history is huge. Its harbour location made it an ideal location for New Zealand’s first inner harbour lighthouse, a human quarantine station, an internment camp, military defence position, and an animal quarantine station. Read about the history of Matiu/Somes Island.
Matiu/Somes Island sits in the middle of Wellington Harbour. This video explores the island's history and its many roles, including quarantine station, military outpost and now wildlife refuge.
Ongoing/dates vary: Located in Te Whanganui-a-Tara/Wellington Harbour, Matiu/Somes Island Scientific and Historic Reserve is a tranquil retreat for wildlife and visitors.
Matiu/Somes Island, known as Matiu to Maori, has long a pre-European history dating back to Kupe. Discover native wildlife, visit the lighthouse and WWII bunkers for a journey back in time, and meet the local sheep on the island’s farm.