18 November 2013

Going For A Walk: Motutapu Walkway {Or Please Cows, Just Get Out Of The Way}

If you're anchored up in Islington Bay, which is located between Rangitoto and Motutapu Islands, there are a number of great tramping options on either island. One that I recommend is to walk from Islington Bay to Home Bay on Motutapu Island via the Motutapu Walkway. Once you get to the start of the walkway, it is 4.2kms to Home Bay and the estimated walking time is 1 hour 30 minutes one way, although you can probably do it in less if you walk briskly and don't stop to take in the views. Which would be silly. Take your time and enjoy. Partway along the Motutapu Walkway, you have the option to take the Emu Point loop track out to the site of the old Emu homestead. Probably adds another 3kms or so to your walk, but you're not in a hurry, so why not. Unlike the approx. 600 year old volcanic Rangitoto Island, Motutapu dates back 180 million years and has a "Jurassic" feel to it in some parts. Much of the island is covered in pasture, but the native bush is being restored in parts through the efforts of the Motutapu Restoration Trust. There are also Maori archaeological and World War II sites which you can explore as you wander across the island.

Wharf in Islington Bay. You can tie your dinghy up here for the start of the walk or take it out of the water at the boat ramp further up in the bay at Yankee Wharf. That's what we do as it is a bit too far to row out to this wharf from where the boats are usually anchored up. There are toilet blocks at the wharf, so if you're middle-aged like me, stop now because you won't see another one until Home Bay.

It is a short walk from Islington Bay to the causeway which connects Rangitoto and Motutapu Islands. Note the speed limit - there are a few vehicles on both islands belonging to the ferry company, Department of Conservation, the farm, the conservation trust and the Outdoor Education Centre.

View from the causeway out to Te Tauroa and Gardiner Gap.

The landscape on Motutapu is very different from Rangitoto with lots of trees and cleared grassy areas.

Not far away from the causeway is the start of the Motutapu Walkway. When you get up onto the path, go through the gate into the paddock and walk along the fence line. Do not go on the outside of the paddock. You might be deceived into thinking the path goes that way but before too long you are hacking your way through tall grass and prickly weeds and trying to decide whether to turn around, jump over the barbed wire or keep walking to the end of the paddock. Good times.

One of the advantages of going the wrong way and being on the wrong side of the fence line is that you can look out over to Islington Bay and Rangitoto Island.

Some of the pasture land. The cows and sheep do a good job keeping everything mowed and tidy.

The track is marked by these yellow posts. Theoretically. It isn't always clear and sometimes they're elusive. Or maybe that's just me. You can't go too far wrong though if you just keep heading eastwards towards Home Bay. This is a view over to the south towards Motuihe Island and the mainland. You can see the tip of Rangitoto Island on the right hand side.

Another yellow pole which indicates you are supposed to cross over into this paddock and carry on. Except the cows aren't having any of it. If you don't have treats for them, they don't want anything to do with you. So just carry on walking along the fence line in the adjoining paddock. It's the least you can do for the cows. After all, they give you cheese. And hamburgers. Even better - cheeseburgers.

Don't forget to look back from time to time. There is Rangitoto Island and its volcanic cone.

This is the trig station. I don't know what a trig station is but they always seem to be on the tippy top of things. I only remember the term trig from math class. Maybe this is some sort of calculator left behind by the aliens. This one is located at 120m. Great place for panoramic views.
You can see Home Bay now. You're in the final stretch. Just follow the yellow poles down the hill to the south end of Home Bay by the campground. That's the ferry coming in with trampers, campers and conservation volunteers.

This little fellow's name is Mint Sauce or Minty as the kids call him. He is wearing a bowtie and I think he has been adopted by the farmers. He runs after the little kids to play with them. Cute. I want one.
The end of the walk is at the Reid Homestead. The island was originally bought from the Maori by Robert Graham in 1857 who turned large parts of it into pasture. In 1869, the Reid brothers bought the island and continued to farm it. The homestead has been restored and you can go in for a look around. Just remember to take off your shoes to protect the floors. Kiwis don't really wear shoes anyways if they can help it, so it will help you blend in.

The beach at Home Bay. You might want to take a swim to cool down before you head back to Islington Bay. Personally, I wouldn't. The water is too cold for me. But that doesn't stop the Kiwis. Bless their cotton socks. I have no idea what that phrase means, but I thought I would use it.


  1. We have hiked Motutapu before, but not Rangitoto. My daughter and her friends a hiking and camping on the two islands next month. I love your photos, thanks for sharing.

    1. You should definitely do Rangitoto at some point. I particularly like the Coastal Track which goes from the Rangi wharf to Islington Bay. You can also make a loop out of it and go up to the summit as well. Sounds like a great trip for your daughter!

  2. Ah- kindred spirits! I have an aversion to shoes, Ellen :) I'm still trying to puzzle how to give those cows the slip. Lovely views and I like your gentle humour. Thanks very much for playing along with me.

    1. I'm so glad I discovered your blog and your weekly walks. I've been enjoying exploring the world through your walks!


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