Motuihe island is rich in both indigenous and early settler history. One claim to fame is as an internment camp for Prisoners of World War ll. Its most famous guest, German Captain Felix Von Luckner, escaped after only three weeks in captivity, was recaptured, returned to the island and immediately staged another escape. He was on the point of implementing the plan when the war ended.
Since then the Island has been reforesting parts, returning native birds, lizards and insects, conserving historic features and developing tracks and visitor facilities. Because of this, parts of the island are still a working farm with much of the land in pasture. Along with scattered pockets of old bush there is one surviving population of a nationally threatened species, Senecio scaberus, an endemic fireweed found only at the mouth of Von Luckner’s gully.
There are regular ferries to Motuihe, as well as safe anchorages for private boats. Camping is available at this popular DOC recreation reserve and a pinic area is provided for day travellers. There are also day and half-day cruises running for new visitors of the island, that include a return ferry ride to the island and a guided tour of the island.
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