Located in the Wellington/Kapiti region
IntroductionMatiu/Somes Island is a predator-free scientific reserve. It is also a historic reserve with a rich multicultural history.
Find things to do and places to stay Matiu/Somes Island
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, and
- 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 overnight accommodation on the island.
You can get to Matiu/Somes Island on the scheduled ferry service which runs between Queens Wharf and Days Bay seven days a week.
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.
Visiting the island
Matiu/Somes Island is a great place to spend the day. A gentle walking track takes you around the 24.8-hectare island.
- The island and Visitor Centre are open daily between 8.30 am. and 5.00 pm.
- Toilets are situated near the main wharf and behind the visitor centre.
- There are no catering facilities. Bring your own food and water, and remove your rubbish.
- Everything on the island is protected.
- On busy days, visitor numbers are limited to protect the island.
Due to fire hazards and limited water supply, smoking and fires are not allowed. The island may be closed to visitors at times of extreme fire danger. If you discover a fire, dial 111 and go immediately to the main wharf.
Biosecurity check to keep the island predator-free
Check your bags, clothes, footwear and boat or kayak for pests before leaving the mainland. Ensure food is in sealed containers. If you find a pest on the island, tell your tour guide or island ranger immediately.
Upon arrival to Mātiu/Somes there will be a supervised biosecurity check for all visitors to the island. This check involves making sure all bags, pockets, and prams are free of rodents, insects and plant material, and that footwear are clean to a good standard.
Following the biosecurity check there will be an outline of several health and safety rules while on the island. Depending on how clean the gear is, the biosecurity check can take up to 15 – 20 minutes.
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.
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.