|Trip Length:||2 days, 1 night|
|Start:||Auckland Ferry Terminal|
|Finish:||Auckland Ferry Terminal|
|Best time to visit:||Year round|
Things to do on Rotoroa Island include observing endangered bird and animal species who are free to wander throughout the Island. The visitors are controlled and told how to behave, the local inhabitants set the pace, wekas are known to cheekly invite themselves into your accommodation to see what you are doing. There is a heritage trail, complete with a museum to wander through. Hiking, swimming and volunteering are encouraged and, for fishing enthusiasts, great spots to try your hand at catching your evening meal.
Getting to Rotoroa is atmosphere building as you let go of city living. The information below, about transport to and from Rotoroa is from Rotoroa’s visitor information website. Remember to check links below for up to date details. For our weekend we travelled by scheduled Fullers Ferry departing early morning. There is one scheduled sailing a day, to the Island during summer. Effectively Island visitors are limited by the transport options to the Island. For those whose budget is flexible there are options of sea planes and chartered boats.
A ferry service from downtown Auckland to Rotoroa Island is offered by our friends at 360 Discovery Cruises. The ferries currently run on a regular but seasonal basis: more frequently in summer, only weekends in winter. The trip takes just over an hour, with a stop-off at Waiheke’s Orapiu wharf on the way. You can also get to Rotoroa Island by ferry from Coromandel.
Check out 360 Discovery ferry timetable and fare information
PRIVATE BOATS. Rotoroa Island is a fantastic destination for boating and sailing, with a choice of sheltered coves and bays all around the island. Check out the website Rotoroa to find out more information about driving yourself to the island.
CHARTERS, WATER TAXIS, HELICOPTERS & SEAPLANES. If you’d like to come to Rotoroa Island but your visit doesn’t fit with the current 360 Discovery ferry timetable, there are other ways of getting to the island.
WATER TAXI. Auckland Sea Shuttles.
DAY PASS (LANDING FEE). A contribution of $5 per adult and $3 per child is appreciated from all visitors to the island, and goes directly towards our ongoing restoration and conservation programmes. This contribution is included in all public ferry tickets. For all other visitors it’s payable in cash on the island, at the Exhibition Centre or the honesty box at Ladies Bay, or via direct online transfer.
DAY PASS (LANDING FEE) ONLINE PAYMENTS. You’re welcome to pay for your day pass via online transfer to our bank account below: 02-0108-0032549-01. Rotoroa Island Trust. If you need a receipt, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Landed and ready to check into your accommodation.
Rotoroa Island is a trust whereby all land accommodation is managed by the park guardians with a resident ranger as the manager of facilities, services, guided tours and visitor encounters. Rotoroa Accommodation range from comfortable refurbished 1970’s homes to bunk style rooms with space for 18 people. The Superintendent’s House on Rotoroa Island was the former home of the island’s most senior Salvation Army staff member, the Superintendent. Consequently it occupies a lovely spot with beautiful views across the Gulf and over to Coromandel. Island accommodation numbers are limited to less than 30 people, exclusivity is part of the package. Privacy is guaranteed.
There are no camping sites on the Island. Dogs and other pets are strictly prohibited. Check our travel pack information for frequently asked questions.
TIP: Before booking your Fullers Ferry ensure there is accommodation available for the days you wish to travel. Book your accommodation before any other travel arrangements.
Settling in with a guided ranger tour
You are ready to explore the Island. A must do experience is a guided ranger tour. Invaluable Island tips how to get around, the narrative of the Island and details about flora and fauna is part of the walking tour.
Visitors meet at the Island’s information centre for an introduction, collection of brochures and to assist with any queries that might have arisen during your check in process.
The tour starts with the heritage buildings and the story of the Salvation Army alcohol recovery programmes.
TIP: Book Island guided tour before your arrival.
Visitors are shown the Salvation Army Chapel and the Jail where repeat drink offending guests were housed. The walk alcoholics took on their journey to sobriety is marked with a sculptural interpretation of the 12 Steps of the Salvation Army rehabilitation programme. The Norfolk pines are not native however it is explained, due to their significance to the Island story they remain as part of the landscape.
The Exhibition Centre, with its striking architectural features reflects the history of the Island with its shape and position in the landscape.
Wetlands and guided Island walking tour
Wetlands encourage the visitor to be very quiet and wait for a glimpse of the brown teal native ducks.
The wetlands are a lesson on endangered birds and what is required for the native brown teal Brown teal/pateke: New Zealand wetland and river birds to thrive.
The native Brown Teal Recovery Program has a facebook page. These adorable ducks deserve to be officially liked by everyone who has a facebook page.
The ranger invites you to observe how flax and the nibbles from various birds and the differing bite marks indicate who had a flax lunch recently.
We were accompanied by the chattering wekas for part of our walk.
The walk covers the wetlands, the regenerating bush and beach lookouts for Ladies and Mens Beach. The various walking tracks are discussed with advice on the routes to be taken.
On Ladies beach dotterel bird tracks were pointed out and it was suggested at dusk to visit the beach to observe the nesting pair feeding.
The frailty of the dotterel nest was very evident why introduced predators have had a tremendous impact on ground nesting birds. The guided walk is approximately an hour and a half.
It goes without saying the Island is an ideal bird watching hot spot. A special moment during the weekend was at dusk on Ladies beach observing busy dotterels making their way across the sand. It was striking that the birds were confident in demeanor.
The walking tracks range from easy to medium grade walks. There are relatively few steps however there are hill climbs which offer the walker sweeping panoramic views of the Hauraki Gulf with Auckland, as a speck on the distant horizon. Your walks are vistas from small coves where you view boats at anchor to a wider sight of the Gulf ferries busy transporting passengers around the Islands. The City of Sails is an apt description of Auckland when you are perched on an Island promontory watching the billowing sails of the yachts.
Reluctantly you pack your bags, you check that you are carrying all your rubbish back with you, any food scraps or plastic containers. Then you take a moment to sit outside in the warmth of the spring weather to listen to the bird song. The tui decides you need a farewell and starts up a chorus which continues as the tui’s girlfriend takes an interest in the entertainment. You are close enough to the tui to witness the bird’s throat vibrating with the power of song. The Island sings as you savour your final weekend moments on Rotoroa.