Matiu-Somes Island

  • 2 hr – 4 hr loop track
  • Easy

Easy walk around DOC reserve island in the middle of Wellington Harbour. Home to tuatara, skink, gecko and several endangered bird species. Great day trip with small kids - or elderly parents!

Key information
Walking time
2 hr – 4 hr
Distance
3.0km
Type
Loop track
Loop track
Grade
Easy
Bookings
No bookings — open access
No — open access
Find it
Starts
Ferry jetty
()
Maps
NZTopo50-BQ32

Access to Matiu/Somes is via East/West Ferries which leave from Queen's Wharf or Eastbourne.  The ferries can fill-up in summer so get there in plenty of time to make sure you get on board.

The ride across the harbour to Matiu/Somes takes about 15-20 minutes.  On disembarking you are met by a DOC officer and given a briefing in the Whare Kiore (Rat House) about the need to check your packs for vermin and also given a bit of a talk about the history of the island  (prisoner of war internment centre/quarantine station) and its role now as a wildlife sanctuary.

The track begins with a short section of uphill sealed road which takes you up from the shore.  There is a small cememtery and memorial to those who died on the island and great lookouts towards Wgtn CBD.  The road continues up to the DOC buildings in the centre of the island but the loop track branches off to the right just after the cemetery.  It is a fairly level easy walk most of the way around, with a few gentle hills - grassy track or gravel most of the way.

There are plenty of opportunities to spot skinks sunning themselves beside the track and you may also spot gecko, tuatara, kakariki and the rare North Island robin .  Vegetation is coastal scrub with some patches of regenerating native bush, which has been planted by volunteers.

There are side tracks branching off to the lighthouse and other lookout points and at the top of the island you can climb to a trig  and WWII gun emplacements for a 360 panorama of the harbour.

Black-backed gulls roost on the island and get territorial during nesting season (Dec-Jan), dive-bombing walkers who get to close to the nests.

The former island hospital building is now an information centre and museum and worth a visit to learn more about the human history of the island.

If its warm enough you could swim from the rocky beach beside the jetty while you wait for the ferry to pick you up.

The island could be walked in an hour easily but its worth taking your time (and depending on ferry schedules, you will probably have to! ) and wildlife spotting as you walk. We spent 3 hours on the island with two children which was about right.

According to the DOC website you can also camp overnight on the island.

Map
This track needs a photograph.
ID 2628

About this track

Added 21 January 2008 by sasjsasj. 2 revisions, most recently 21 January 2008 by pmckepmcke.
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