The hut was built between 1910 and 1920 for the animal quarantine station caretaker by the Department of Agriculture. It was used as a caretaker’s cottage up until the early 1980s. Between 1906 and 1925, the caretakers provided cooked food for the lepers. In 1982, the hut was converted into the island’s interpretation centre.
The interpretation panels are now housed in the Immigrant Barracks on Whakamaru Beach (Swimmers Beach).
Monday to Thursday
- Adult (18+ years): $25 per night
- Child/youth (5-17 years): $12.50 per night
- Infant (0-4 years): free
Friday to Sunday
- Adult (18+ years): $30 per night
- Child/Youth (5–17 years): $15 per night
- Infant: (0-4 years): free
Backcountry Hut Passes can be used at this hut.
Bookings are required all year.
A $10 service fee applies to phone and in-person booking. This is a limited service – book online first. An in-person booking is dependent on there being space available.
Your hut booking is for any bunk bed, not for a specific bunk bed – select your bunk bed on arrival.
Ōtamahua/Quail Island lies within Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour, close to Christchurch City.
There is a regular ferry service from Lyttelton Wharf. Ensure you know when the last ferry leaves Quail Island to get back to Lyttelton. Once you’ve booked, you'll get a discount code. Black Cat Cruises schedule and fees.
Alternatively, you can make your own way to the Island by canoe, kayak or private boat.
Whakamaru (Swimmers) beach, Skiers Beach or Walkers Beach are the recommended places to land/launch canoes or kayaks. There is also plenty of room to pull up a boat. Care is required as these areas will be shallow or mud flats at low tide. The majority of the island’s coast is unsuitable for landings. Check the weather forecast before you leave for the island.
The wharf is not suitable for overnight mooring.
Tracks to this hut
Ōtamahua/Quail Island tracksLocated in Christchurch area and Ōtamahua/Quail Island Recreation ReserveThe beautiful and pest free Ōtamahua is home to historic sites such as the ship’s graveyard and the quarantine barracks. It has swimming and waterskiing beaches and a bird-watching barricade.Duration 2 hr 30 min for complete island circuitDifficulty Easiest, Easy
- Toilets are located at Ōtamahua Hut, Whakamaru Beach (Swimmers Beach) and Skiers Beach.
- Treated water is available from the taps located at the hut and Whakamaru Beach. This water is sourced from Christchurch's treated supply and can be consumed from the tap.
- Most track surfaces on the Island are evenly graded or grassed, but sturdy footwear is recommended.
- The Island contains a number of unmarked tracks used by the Ōtamahua / Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust for planting access - stay on sign-marked tracks to avoid stepping on new plants and for your own personal safety.
- Carry adequate clothing and be prepared for sudden changes in the weather – parts of the Island are exposed.
- There are steep unfenced cliffs. Small children should be kept under close supervision at all times.
- There is a danger of windfall or treefall in high or gusty wind conditions.
- Mobile reception is available on the island.
- The wharf is not suitable for overnight mooring.
Ōtamahua/Quail Island is at times subject to extreme fire danger
If fire breaks out on the Island:
- head to the nearest beach or coastal area, if it is safe to do so.
- if you have a mobile, dial 111 for fire.
Look after the island
- No open fires
- No animals, including dogs
- No unauthorised vehicles, including mountain bikes
- No firearms
- All wildlife, plants, and natural and historic features are protected. Be respectful and keep to the tracks.
- Take home all your rubbish.
- Bait stations and predator traps are in use at all time. Read the warning signs on the wharf and around the Island.
Protect our wildlife
- Check - your gear for pests, eg rodents, insects, skinks.
- Clean - footwear and gear, removing soil and seeds.
Mice in hut
There are mice present in this hut and their numbers increase during the warmer months of the year. We recommend you secure your food overnight to prevent mice from getting into it.