A unique arts, heritage and conservation island opens in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf.

Ladies Bay, Rotoroa Island, Auckland


  • Conservation island
  • Native bird sanctuary
  • Great day walking



The North Tower Loop track is a 45-minute walk, taking you across swimming beaches, wetlands and forest

Rotoroa Island(opens in new window), off Waiheke Island’s east coast, was off-limits to the public for over a century as New Zealand’s first and longest running alcohol and drug addiction treatment centre. 

Today, it is a conservation and heritage estate thanks to the generosity of local philanthropists who negotiated a 99-year lease from the Salvation Army, establishing the Rotoroa Island Trust (RIT), and a programme of restoration and redevelopment designed to return island access to the people of New Zealand. 

Visitors to Rotoroa can explore the heritage buildings at the heart of the island’s old community including the jail, chapel, school house and cemetery.

A state-of-the-art exhibition centre showcases the history of Rotoroa while a major conservation programme has seen over 350,000 native plants reintroduced to the island along with a pest eradication strategy.

A monumental artwork by leading New Zealand sculptor Chris Booth was installed in April 2011 and dominates the island’s southern headland.

The island has four beautiful sandy beaches, walking trails, and brand new amenities including free barbeques.

Rotoroa Island, Auckland

Getting to Rotoroa Island 

Book a ferry through Explore Group(opens in new window). For more information on Rotoroa, visit www.rotoroa.org.nz(opens in new window)

What to bring

  • Walking shoes, sunblock and a sun hat
  • Swimming gear and towels
  • Food and snacks

Cell phone access and fresh water are available on the island.

Things to do on Rotoroa Island 

  • Visit the chapel, with its 48 steps signifying the process of recovery from addiction
  • Explore the jail house where inebriated inmates were left to dry-out on admission
  • See the 1860s school house which doubled as a tea house plus the community’s old buttery
  • Visit the exhibition centre
  • Walk to the island’s cemetery and contemplate views of, Coromandel, Ponui Island and the Hauraki Gulf
  • Swim and picnic at one of the island’s four beautiful sandy beaches
  • Pack a lunch and cook it at one of the island’s free BBQs
  • Visit the mast from the vessel Tiri II, Radio Hauraki’s pirate radio ship which broadcast from the Gulf and which was eventually decommissioned on the island
  • Explore walking trails among regenerating native bush
  • Take your kids fishing from the wharf at Home Bay or try catching a snapper from the rocks of one of the island’s bays
  • Visit the seven metre high Chris Booth sculpture on the island’s southern headland

Help look after the island

Rotoroa is a predator free island, so dogs are prohibited. A pest eradication programme is ongoing. Camping is not permitted.

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