Located in the Auckland region
Now, following the world's largest island pest eradication programme, it's a fine place to see native birds including the rare and beautiful tieke.
There are multiple walking tracks. If you're feeling up for an adventure, head across to neighbouring Rangitoto, thanks to the short causeway established during WWll that connects the islands.
Gardiners Gap is the best place to spot shorebirds such as the New Zealand dotterel and sometimes shore plovers and Caspian terns. The best time to see these birds is from mid-winter on, when pairs move back to their nesting sites. Nesting usually begins in September. Stay well away from birds during their nesting season and take care where you walk on the beach to avoid crushing their well camouflaged eggs.
Home Bay forest is the best place for seeing forest birds on Motutapu. Birds you might be able to spot include:
You may also be able to see takahē in the Home Bay area. Do not feed the takahē or other birds.
Motutapu is a popular destination for boaties. Small boats can be landed on many of the beaches around the island such as Islington Bay, Home Bay or Station Bay, and these spots also provide sheltered anchorages. Larger boats can land at the Home Bay Wharf on Motutapu or the Islington Bay Wharf on Rangitoto Island, where you can walk across the causeway to Motutapu.
You can fish off the rocks or the beach anywhere round the island’s coastline. However, fishing is discouraged in Administration Bay, adjacent to the Motutapu Outdoor Education Centre, as it is a voluntary no take fishing area.
Motutapu is accessible to experienced kayakers. It takes about three hours to kayak to Home Bay from the mainland. You can also kayak to Motutapu from the nearby islands of Motuihe or Waiheke, or as part of a tour of the islands of the Hauraki Gulf.
Motutapu is directly behind Rangitoto in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf and joined to it by a causeway.
Access to Motutapu is by public passenger ferry, charter boat, charter boat, private boat, or kayak.
There is a wharf at Home Bay. Rangitoto's Islington Bay Wharf is also near the island's western end.
Ferry service is limited. The public passenger ferry operators that travel to this island only maintain a limited service.
If you are chartering a commercial vessel to the island, check the operator has a Pest-Free Warrant. Commercial vessels that use the wharf will also need a wharf landing permit.
Find authorised transport operators to this island.
Safe anchorages for private boats include Islington Bay (Rangitoto) and Home Bay on Motutapu.
Motutapu is accessible to very experienced kayakers. It takes approximately three hours to kayak to Home Bay from Mission Bay. Several kayak operators offer kayak rentals and guided kayak tours to Motutapu. See the Commercial Operators section.
During its varied past Motutapu has been intensively settled and cultivated by Maori, hosted Victoria picnic parties of over 10,000 people, and at times during WWII was a base for more than 1,000 military personnel.
Remnants of this varied history can still be seen including sites of kainga (villages), pa (earthwork fortifications), kumara storage pits, former gardens, and middens (food refuge deposits). You can also visit the Reid Homestead, one of the last of the early farmhouses on the island and now a Visitors Centre, and explore WWII sites.
Auckland and parts of the Waikato are at Level 3. DOC huts and campsites are closed in these regions. The rest of New Zealand is at Level 2.