Overview

Rotoroa Island is a unique arts, heritage and conservation island. Bring your walking shoes to explore the island’s network of trails and lookout points, or simply relax with a swim at one of four beautiful beaches. 

The island is the Hauraki Gulf’s newest wildlife sanctuary. In partnership with Auckland Zoo, the Rotoroa Island Trust has begun to release endangered native species on the island, including kiwi, saddlebacks, takahē and skinks.

Rotoroa was closed to the public for more than 100 years, as home to NZ’s first addiction treatment centre. Rotoroa maintains historical buildings and exhibitions showcasing the island’s fascinating history. For a truly unique experience, you can even stay the night at the island’s boutique hostel or in a vintage holiday home.

Where is it?

Rotoroa Island is nestled among a chain of islets off Waiheke’s east coast – a 75-minute ferry ride from the Downtown Auckland ferry terminal. You can also catch this ferry from Orapiu Wharf on Waiheke Island, which is a 10-minute journey to the island.

What can I do?

  • Museum and Exhibition Centre - A state-of-the-art visitor centre and museum now showcases the island’s fascinating history from its Maori and early European history through to its many years in private isolation as New Zealand’s first and longest-running addiction treatment centre.
  • Historical Buildings - Get a glimpse into what life on the island used to be like by visiting heritage buildings including a chapel, schoolhouse and jailhouse.
  • Birdlife - A number of endangered bids have been introduced onto the island including takahe, whitehead, saddleback, pateke ducks and kiwi. Kiwi chicks were first released in 2014, and since, more than 30 kiwi have enjoyed Rotoroa's predator-free haven. Rotoroa welcomes visitors for special release events, as the island trust regularly introduces. New Zealand leads the world in island restoration projects for wildlife, and the Rotoroa Island partnership with Auckland Zoo signals a new chapter in island restoration.
  • Native forest - Thanks to the efforts of Rotoroa Island Trust and volunteers, the island has gone through a substantial transformation since 2008. The planting of 400,000 native trees and shrubs have helped regenerate the island, as it was once covered in 20,000 wilding pines.
  • Walking tracks - Take in the island's rugged coastline, sandy beaches and regenerating forest. Visit the seven-metre high sculpture by New Zealand artist, Chris Booth, on the island’s southern headland. Walk to the North or South Tower for amazing views of the Hauraki Gulf, or go for a short walk to Ladies Bay and relax on the sandy beach with a picnic or BBQ. The majority of walking tracks on the island are accessible by most people with reasonable fitness.
  • Accommodation - Rotoroa Island has three self-contained Qualmark 4-star rated boutique holiday homes, as well as a backpacker style hostel. All of the accommodation is renovated and styled in vibrant, vintage decor reminiscent of the island's history. Bookings are essential. Visit the Rotoroa website for more information and availability by clicking here.

What do I need?

  • Plenty of water, snacks and lunch, as there are no food outlets on the island.
  • Good walking shoes, sun block and a sun hat.
  • Swimming gear and a towel in the warmer months.
  • A light rain jacket, and warm layers. Temperatures can change quickly, regardless of the season.
  • There are no rubbish bins on pest-free islands. Please remember to take all your rubbish, including leftover food, off the island with you.

How long should I stay?

This is a full-day activity due to the ferry timetable and travel time to the island from downtown Auckland. For ferry timetables click here.

Important pest-free island info

  • Please check your bags for stowaways, such as mice, rats, Argentine ants and Rainbow Skinks to name a few.
  • Ensure your footwear, clothing and bags are clean and free of soil and seeds.
  • Your lunch must be packed in a rodent-proof/ sealed container e.g. hard plastic.
  • No open bags or boxes will be allowed on-board. Everything you bring must be sealed or zipped closed.

Read more before you visit a pest-free island here.

What you need to know FAQ's

  • How far in advance do I need to arrive for my ferry?

    For all ferry services, we recommend arriving at the ferry terminal at least 30 minutes prior to ferry departure. Boarding for Rotoroa Island closes 15 minutes before departure time.

  • How long should we stay on the island?

    Rotoroa Island is a full day activity due to the ferry service timetable. It is possible to extend your stay at certain times of the year by staying overnight in the fantastic island units if you book in advance. Make sure you book in advance as they book out fast! (See ‘Can I stay on the island?’ further down).

  • Is there a cafe on the island?

    There are no food outlets on the island so please bring your own food and water. All food must be packed in a rodent-proof, sealed container (e.g. hard plastic). There are public BBQs on the island for you to cook your food if you wish.

  • What do I need to bring?

    • Good walking shoes, sun block and a sun hat.
    • Swimming gear and a towel during summer.
    • Plenty of water, snacks and lunch in sealed, rodent-proof containers. There is no food for sale on the island! If staying overnight it is wise to bring enough food for an extra day in case the boat is cancelled due to bad weather.
    • A rain jacket, depending on the time of year and conditions.

    There are no rubbish bins on pest-free islands. Please remember to take all your rubbish, including leftover food, off the island with you. Read more about visiting a pest-free island here.

  • What do I need to do when visiting a pest free island?

    • Please check your bags for stowaways, such as mice, rats, Argentine Ants and Rainbow Skinks to name a few.
    • Ensure your footwear, clothing and bags are clean and free of soil and seeds.
    • Your lunch must be packed in a rodent-proof, sealed container (e.g. hard plastic).
    • No open bags or boxes will be allowed on-board. Everything you bring must be sealed or zipped closed.

    There are no rubbish bins on pest-free islands. Please remember to take all your rubbish, including leftover food, off the island with you. Read more about visiting a pest-free island here.

  • What wildlife can I expect to see on the island?

    The island is the Hauraki Gulf's newest wildlife sanctuary and in partnership with Auckland Zoo, the Rotoroa Island Trust has begun to release endangered native species on the island, including kiwi, saddlebacks, reptiles and takahē. Rotoroa Island has a range of native and non-native wildlife to see and hear on the island. Visit our wildlife page here to see what’s in store for you to experience.

  • Is this destination suitable for children?

    Rotoroa is great for children 5 years and over, as there are easy walking tracks and plenty of opportunities to view wildlife. There are also interactive exhibits to explore plus great beaches.

  • Is the island wheelchair/stroller friendly?

    Yes, but you need to be aware that access to many parts of the Island may be difficult. Also, please be sure to remove any soil or seeds from the treads.

  • Can I bring a bicycle, scooter, and skateboard to the island?

    No. These items aren’t permitted on the island.

  • Can I take my dog to the island?

    Dogs are not permitted on Rotoroa Island. You can take a disability assist dog into controlled dog areas without the need for a permit if it is kept under control at all times.

  • Is there cellphone coverage on the island?

    Yes, mobile coverage is available on Rotoroa Island.

  • Are there toilets on the island?

    Yes. Located in Home Bay within the exhibition centre, and adjacent to the school house. More toilets (and outside showers) are located at Ladies Bay.

  • Is there a smoking area on the island?

    Yes, mobile coverage is available on Rotoroa Island.

  • Is my ticket valid for future dates, or only the day/time specified on the ticket?

    If you have booked accommodation to stay overnight please book your ferry tickets carefully, as you'll need to ensure you book the exact date and time you wish to return.

  • Can I stay on the island overnight?

    Yes. There are three beautifully renovated vintage style units available to hire. These are very popular so be sure to book well in advance. To find out more click here.

  • Is the ferry to Rotoroa Island a direct service?

    No. The ferry to Rotoroa makes a stops at Orapiu, Waiheke Island to drop off and pick up passengers.

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