Kawau Island, aptly named The ‘Jewel of Hauraki’, is found 8kms off the coast about 45 km north of Auckland. Around 90% of the island is in the private ownership of about 70 locals, who offer a range of holiday activities to hundreds of weekend and holiday visitors every year. The rest of the island is under the management of the Department of Conservation.
Exploring Kawau Island
The activities on the tiny island, which is just 8 km by 5 km, include walking in the dense native bush which is populated by numerous New Zealand rare and endangered birds. Crystal clear waters in astonishing shades of blue and green surround this sub-tropical paradise making it an awesome place for diving, snorkeling and fishing. Almost every property on the Island relies on direct access to the sea. There are only two short roads serving settlements at Schoolhouse Bay and South Cove, and most people have private wharves for access to their front door steps.
Local realtor, historian and Kawau Island writer John Pryor sums up the island’s charm: “Kawau combines the seclusion of an Island with the convenience of most mainland services, all within a short distance of Auckland City. It’s superb scenery and un-polluted waters provide a paradise for fishing and sailing. The clear night sky enables you to see stars forever and the absence of traffic lets you hear the many native and exotic birds that inhabit the Island.”
Where to stay on Kawau Island
Although Kawau Island makes for a great day trip from Auckland, there are a number of accommodation options on the island for those who fancy making a weekend of it. Accommodation includes holiday houses (or Baches as they are more commonly known in these parts!), hotels and a camping ground – whatever your budget and you preferred accommodation style – you’ll find it on Kawau Island.
Things to do on Kawau Island
In addition to the water based activities on the island, there are some other great things that you need to check out. Not to be missed sights include Mansion House, Rewa Bay where you can snorkel or swim around the hulk of the Rewa, and the Kawau Island Yacht Club. The remains of one of New Zealand’s first coppermines can be seen at Mine Point, near Mansion House.
Bush walks through lush native forest and giant Redwood stand alive with birdsongs from a huge variety of native and many endangered birds. The dawn chorus of these birds, which include some ex-pat Australians such as Kookaburras and Rosellas, is a rare symphony which you will not find anywhere else in the world.
Over 100 years ago, the then-Governor General Sir George Grey imported wallabies and possums to the island, proving disastrous for the native flora and fauna. The local community formed the Pohutukawa Trust to manage these pests and restore the island to its native beauty, this is proving highly successful and as the introduced pests are reduced, native plants and birdlife are increasing.
Getting there and way
Hire a water taxi and go island hopping, or hop on a scheduled cruise boat. Kawau Water Taxis depart from Sandspit 10:30 daily. Also available timetabled shuttle services, departing Sandspit & Kawau Island daily.