Matiu-Somes Island with Wellington City in the background
Image: Jeremy Rolfe | Creative Commons


Access to Matiu/Somes Island in Wellington will be restricted from February 19, 2024, to allow for the 85-year-old wharf to be rebuilt.

Date:  15 January 2024

The existing wharf was initially built in 1938 and is due for replacement. The new wharf is intended to last for up to 100 years, until 2123.

The operation to rebuild Matiu/Somes Island’s wharf is expected to take between 6-8 months, during which time the island will be inaccessible to the public. The island is planned to be open to the public again by spring 2024 although factors like weather may influence this timeframe.

The Kaitiaki Board, who govern the island, have identified replacing the wharf as critical work to ensure ongoing access for mana whenua and the public into the future.

The surrounding area is known to contain nesting populations of kororā/little blue penguins, and a Penguin Management Plan is being drafted to ensure minimal impact on the birds.

Te Whatanui Winiata, Chair of the Kaitiaki Board, says while the public will have no access to the island for the duration of the rebuild, the important conservation work on the island will continue.

"The kaitiakitanga of the island is paramount, where the island remains pest-free and power systems and houses are maintained," says Te Whatanui. "We're looking forward to a brand-new wharf which will ensure Matiu is accessible for all uri, kaitiaki, and visitors in the future."

The island will remain accessible to visitors until 19 February. DOC will keep the current wharf operational for as long as possible, until the demolition of the old wharf for the new one.

Background information

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

The island is owned by local iwi (Taranaki Whānui ki te Upoko o te Ika) It is governed by a Kaitiaki Board and managed by DOC.

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.


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