Motuihe Island is a conservation island in Waitemata Harbour, 30 mins ferry crossing from downtown Auckland. A former POW camp and quarantine station, the island now boasts beaches, forests, rare birds and wonderful walking.
Motuihe Island sits just 16km from the Auckland mainland, so it's a very handy day destination for those who love to get back to nature. As part of a larger conservation project, new species of birds and plants are being introduced here all the time, and the island is also pest and rat-free.
Wander the walkways and look out for oystercatchers, kakariki (parakeets), saddlebacks and lizards. Or find one of the beautiful beaches and while away a few hours just watching the waves lap on the shore. There's a fantastic picnic area on the island, with barbecue facilities, as well as changing sheds and toilets.
In the 19th century, Motuihe Island was used as an isolation station for those with deadly scarlet fever. Later, during World War I, the island became a prisoner of war camp for German soldiers. One of them, Captain Felix von Luckner, was famous for staging numerous escape attempts, his final one being foiled just as the Great War ended. Wander the island and see if you can guess which of Motuihe's bays Captain von Luckner favoured for his attempted swims to freedom.
Between 1941-63, the island was used as a naval cadet training base, but if you're a real history buff, then take advantage of the guided tours around the Heritage Area, where you can learn all about the island's European and Maori history.
How To Get To There:
Ferries run from Piers 2 and 4 in from the ferry terminal on Quay Street in downtown Auckland on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Sundays of the summer months.