Matiu/Somes Island Scientific and Historic Reserve: Places to go in Wellington and Kapiti

View from Matiu/Somes Island (Wellington city in the background)
Image: raromachine | Creative Commons


Matiu/Somes Island is a predator-free scientific reserve. It is also a historic reserve with a rich multicultural history.


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.


Place overview


  • Bird and wildlife watching
  • Kayaking and canoeing
  • Walking and tramping


  • Information panels
  • Picnic tables
  • Toilets
  • Visitor centre
  • 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.

In this section

Find things to do and places to stay Matiu/Somes Island

About track difficulties

Bird watching

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.

Find out about the plants and animals on the island.  

Guided walks

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.

  • Guided walks take approximately 2 hours depending on group size, fitness, time on the island and interests.
  • Walks start at 11:00 am on weekdays.
  • During summer weekends and public holidays, guided walks depart from the wharf at 11 am and 1 pm, depending on guide availability.
  • Anyone is welcome to join.


  • Weekend walks at 11 am for small groups (up to 12) can be booked online.
  • At any other time or for larger groups, guided walks must be booked at least two weeks in advance via the DOC Wellington Visitor Centre. Phone +64 4 384 7770 or
  • Cost: $10 per adult, $2 per child. School groups: $2 per child, adults free. Payment by cash only.
  • Discounts are available for larger adult groups (11-20 people 25%, 20+ people 50%).
  • Minimum group number is three.

Kayaking and canoeing

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.

Sort: A-Z | Popular first

    About this place

    Getting there

    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 arrive by private boat or kayak see the Matiu/Somes Island by boat information. 

    Know before you go

    • You must check your bags for unwanted pests in the Whare Kiore/quarantine building next to the main wharf.
    • Pets are not permitted on Matiu/Somes and other harbour islands.
    • Do not light fires.
    • Smoking is restricted to the main wharf.
    • The island may be closed at times of extreme fire danger. If you discover a fire, call 111 and go immediately to the wharf.
    • Cycling is not permitted on the island for the safety of all visitors.

    Other harbour islands

    • No landing at any time on Mokopuna Island Scientific Reserve, a sensitive sea bird breeding area. 
    • Landing is permitted on the Makaro/Ward Island Scientific Reserve. Pets, fires, and overnight camping are not permitted on the island.


    Kapiti Wellington Visitor Centre
    Phone:   +64 4 384 7770
    Address:   18 - 32 Manners Street
    Full office details
    Back to top