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23 August 2013

Hauraki Gulf Cruising Notes: Rotoroa Island

Rotoroa Island - Come see the transformation of "Alci-traz Island" into a conservation park
36°49’S 175°12’E


Rotoroa is a private island located 4kms east of Waiheke Island and between Pakatoa and Ponui Islands. Rotoroa is owned by the Salvation Army and was known as “Alci-traz” due to the alcohol and drug programs run by the Sallies on both Rotoroa and Pakatoa Islands. (You can find more information on the Sallies' programs in the Pakatoa Island cruising notes.)

In 2009, the Salvation Army leased the island to the Rotoroa Island Trust and it has now been transformed into a conservation park. The Trust has been bankrolled by Kiwi philanthropists Neal and Annette Plowman who have provided funding to date of somewhere in the region of NZ$35 million in support of the restoration efforts. For that amount of money, they could have purchased the neighboring Pakatoa Island! Apparently they made their money in towels. Who knew there was so much money to be had in the humble towel. Obviously I didn't or we wouldn't be trying to figure out how to live frugally on our sailboat.

As part of the restoration, pine trees have been cleared and native plants reintroduced to the island. The heritage buildings, including the chapel, jail and school house, have been restored and a new art exhibition center has been established. The Trust has recently announced a partnership with the Auckland Zoo and will be establishing a wildlife sanctuary on the island. In the meantime, there are four sandy beaches with barbeques and toilets, as well as native bush walks which visitors can enjoy. There are no shops on the island, so bring food with you, but fresh water is available. You can’t camp on the island, but there is “boutique” holiday accommodation available. The island is accessible by ferry or private boat. If you do arrive by private boat, the Trust asks that you pay a NZ$5 per person entrance fee.

If you're interested in other posts in the "Hauraki Gulf Cruising Notes" series, check out this page.

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