Rakitu Island Scenic Reserve
Located in the Auckland region
IntroductionRakitu Island Scenic Reserve lies off the north east coast of Great Barrier Island, in the Hauraki Gulf. It contains areas of native forest and is home to a diverse population of native birds.
Covering 329 ha, Rakitu's sheer cliffs rise 180 meters from the sea in places, giving it an imposing fortress-like appearance. Rakitu Island became a Scenic Reserve in 1994 after being purchased by DOC, with Natural Heritage Fund assistance, from the Rope family.
The island's native flora and fauna are great attractions for day trips. Be aware there are strict biosecurity requirements in place following the eradication of rats in 2018.
Dogs are not allowed on island reserves in the Bay of Islands and Hauraki Gulf.
Find things to do and places to stay Rakitu Island Scenic Reserve
Look out for kererū, tūī, North Island weka, bellbird/korimako, morepork/ruru and shining cuckoo/pipiwharauroa in the forest areas on the island.
You can see sea birds such as little penguin/kororā, grey-faced petrel/oi and shags around the island’s coast.
At its closest point Rakitū is only a few kilometres from Great Barrier Island Aotea, an easy boat trip. The only safe landing is Arid Cove on the north-western side of the island.
As with Great Barrier, there is excellent visibility for diving or snorkelling around Arid Island. The archway on the northwest side of the island is a great place to snorkel. The eastern side of the island has interesting diving. Species you can spot include snapper, blue moki, blue maomao, demoiselles, and possibly kingfish in the summer months.
You can fish off the rocks or the beach anywhere around the island’s coastline.
Rakitū is an open water kayak from Whangapoua or Harataonga campsites on Great Barrier Island. It takes around 1.5 hours to kayak from either campsite. You can kayak around the island, with the west coast having more sheltered weather conditions for kayaking.
Rakitu Island Scenic Reserve is 2.5 kilometres off Great Barrier's eastern coast.
You must find your own boat transport to Rakitu. The only safe landing spot is the sandy shore of Arid Cove on the north-western side of the island.
Find authorised transport operators to this island.
- Help to make Rakitu a pest-free island by checking your boat or kayak thoroughly for pests, soil and seeds – before you leave and between islands in the gulf.
- Keep pest bait/traps on your boat of kayak, and where it is stored.
- Leave your pet at home or on your boat
- For safety reasons make sure you let others know you're visiting the island.
- There are no visitor facilities on the island.
- The island's former owners still visit on the island, so respect residential areas.
Rules for the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park
- Fires and portable barbeques are not allowed except on the permanent barbeque provided onsite.
- Take your rubbish with you – there are no rubbish bins.
- Some activities such as weddings need a permit.
- No camping unless at a designated campsite.
These are part of the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park by-laws. Read the full by-laws.
The eradication of rats from Rakitu Island was carried out during the winter of 2018. Without predators, the island’s already rich plant and wildlife will only continue to flourish. Visitors to the island should take special note of the biosecurity requirements to ensure the island remains pest-free.
The vegetation of Rakitu is made of retired farmland, and forest of mānuka, kānuka and coastal pōhutukawa. The flora of Rakitu features large leaved forms of rangiora and kawakawa. Like nearby Great Barrier and Little Barrier Islands, Rakitu has a remarkable diversity of lichens.
Many native birds occupy the island’s forest and coastal areas.
Rakitu is a taonga to Ngāti Rehua-Ngatiwai ki Aotea people. It is the final resting place of the founding tupuna Rehua.
It is one of a number of sacred islands such as Mokohinau and Hauturu-o-Toi. These other islands have been eradicated of pests for some years, so are thriving with life and taonga species. Ngāti Rehua-Ngatiwai ki Aotea are committed to restoring the mauri of Rakitu. The recent eradication of rats is the first step in establishing a sanctuary for our seabirds and other taonga species.
Ngāti Rehua-Ngatiwai ki Aotea people cleared and cultivated the central valley. There are historic sites including a pa (earthwork fortifications) and several kainga (settlement) and whare (dwelling) sites.
Rakitu was purchased from the Rope family in 1993. Europeans settlers grazed cattle on Rakitu for more than a century, before the Rope family stopped grazing in 2013.