motutapu island

A major restoration project is taking place at Motutapu Island.  The intention is to restore and enhance the island's natural and cultural values and this project is being spear-headed by the Motutapu Restoration Trust (MRT).  The Air New Zealand Environment Trust also has a hand in this vision, as the sponsor of the expansion of the island's nursery. 

Motutapu Island is pest free after the successful removal of possums and wallabies from Rangitoto and Motutapu in the early 1990's. and in winter 2009 the world's most complex island pest eradication ever attempted was carried out.  This targeted the remaining pests on the two islands (mice, rats, hedgehogs, stoats, feral cats and rabbits), thus creating a pest free environment.  Monitoring is carried out regularly to hopefully ensure that the islands are free of these pests forever. 

The native plant nursery was opened on the island on March 1992 and since its beginnings, thousands of volunteers have collected seeds, propagated them in the nursery, planted over 350,000 native trees and protected the "volunteer forests" with the removal of invasive exotic plants.

Volunteers are helping to restore the natural landscape - the native forest, similar to that which existed on Motutapu after neighbouring Rangitoto erupted out of the sea around 600 years ago. The cultural landscape, handed down by Maori, early settlers and WWII Military residents is also being protected, maintained and interpreted.

With the restoration of the island's natural heritage, Motutapu is poised to become a wonderful wildlife sanctuary. It provides all New Zealanders an opportunity to leave a true legacy by creating the largest island sanctuary of its type in New Zealand.

The Air New Zealand Environment Trust has entered into a two year sponsorship term to provide funding to the Motutapu Restoration Trust for the upgrade and expansion of the island nursery. This will double the annual increase in the forest footprint on the island.  Currently four hectares are planted per year, this will increase to eight hectares per year and revegetation on the island will accelerate by 100%.  It will also have a dramatic impact on the island's ecological activities, with bigger trees being produced having a significant effect on the size of the Motutapu forest.

Motutapu is only 30-40 minutes by ferry from downtown Auckland and is linked by causeway to Rangitoto in the Hauraki Gulf Marin Park.  Anyone can visit Motutapu Island with regular ferries being run by Fullers over the summer period.  The MRT also holds regular workdays throughout the year where anyone can come over and get involved in planting, weed control, nursery work and all sorts of other activities. For more information, visit  


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