• Rakitu Island – an emerging sanctuary

Charmaine Foster, whose family sold Rakitu Island to DOC for the benefit of the New Zealand public

Charmaine Foster, whose family sold Rakitu Island to DOC for the benefit of the New Zealand public

We had just come back from walking to the south side of Rakitu when we were hailed by Charmaine Foster, the daughter of the man who last owned Rakitu before it was sold to DOC. Over a cup of tea we learned the story of the island and of her passion to work in partnership with DOC to restore it to what it once was long before human habitation. Her father brought it in 1953 from the Alisons, worked it as a farm and sold it to DOC in 2003 for the benefit of New Zealand public.

Charmaine also lent me a copy of Tane, a journal of the Auckland University Field Club’s trip to Rakitu in 1982 which surveyed the island archeologically, as well as for plants, marine life and birds.

Maori lived here with extensive evidence of cultivation in the valleys and a total of seven pa sites on the island. When the first Europeans landed on the island in 1868 and documented what they saw, the local Maori said most of the petrels had been eaten by the rats and today there are not known to be any.

Ecological restoration on Rakitu Island

Weka were introduced in 1951 by the NZ Wildlife Service and have thrived, but it appears that they have a negative impact on other native species and will be removed when DOC starts to restore the island.

It reminds me of the story of Great Mercury Island, which I posted after Christmas. After 700 years of human habitation, and many rats later, very little bird life was left. But after the pests were eradicated the petrels, kaka and other birds have returned.

Since we came to the island last time five years ago, we can see much more regeneration and it’s great to hear that this year, at last, DOC aims to make it pest-free so the seabirds and other wildlife will return. They will also be introducing Kiwi.

It is always wonderful to visit these places and meet the Kaitiaki (guardians) who care so much about ecological restoration and making these beautiful islands into havens for our native species. They are the quiet heroes and models of how we all need to play our part in halting the decline of our native species.

28 January 2016

  • star rating  Great Tour of Waiheke Island! - We had most of a day to devote to touring Waiheke island and Gabrielle was an EXCELLENT guide! Very accommodating to our schedule, very knowledgeable about the island, a... read more

    Rick S
    7 March 2023

    star rating  Relaxed Day - Gabrielle"s wealth of knowledge of the flora and fauna of the island was amazing. Even though the weather meant plans had to change it was a most enjoyable day hiking... read more

    14 March 2023

    star rating  Sailing - Fab journey, Bruce and Gabrielle great hosts
    Anchored up and swam, not much wind but all good, great food :)

    27 February 2023
  • star rating  A rewarding hike. - We really appreciated the knowlege of Gabrielle about the island, its history and the flora and fauna of the area. We learned so much about the positve steps NZ... read more

    25 February 2023

    star rating  Perfect day away from the Hustle and Bustle - We really enjoyed the stunning views and bays of Waiheke isl. Tyler guided us during the walk and shared her great knowledge about the beautiful nature. Towards the end of... read more

    6 March 2023

    star rating  Wonderful experience on Waiheke Island! - Although the weather was dull with light rain at the beginning of our hike, our wonderful guide Tyler engaged our attention right away with her knowledge of the flora and... read more

    John M
    26 February 2023
  • star rating  Excellent four and introduction to Waiheke Island. - Fantastic tour! Walking and hiking with coastal views, and on a trail through the forest. Then an absolutely delicious picnic lunch on the Mudbrick winery estate before a lovely... read more

    3 March 2023

    star rating  Really knowledgable local guide and beautiful walk. Local history, geography, flora, fauna and current regeneration projects. Well worth it.

    1 April 2023

    star rating  Loved our tour with Gabrielle - We really appreciated the knowlege of Gabrielle about the island, its history and the flora and fauna of the area. We learned so much about the positve steps NZ is... read more

    Karen B
    28 March 2023
  • star rating  Sailing Waiheke with Blue Penguins - My husband and I had such a lovely time touring the islands around Waiheke for our honeymoon! Bruce and Gabrielle were such lovely hosts and we had an amazing time... read more

    11 March 2023

    star rating  Great time. - The hiking tour we took of Waiheke Island was one of our highlights to the Auckland NZ area. Tyler, our guide was knowledgeable, energetic and FUN! I highly recommend... read more

    29 March 2023

    star rating  Excellent first day in NZ tour of Waiheke. - Having a lunch with my guide on the sandy beach. As it turned out, I was the only guest for the tour time and date I had chosen. ... read more

    Peter B
    9 March 2023
  • star rating  Nydia was a lovely tour guide. The scenery was amazing. We had a tight schedule due to a flight and they modified the tour time to accommodate us. Great people... read more

    Abbey B
    4 March 2023

    star rating  The perfect way to explore the Hauraki Gulf - We had a fabulous day out on board Pacific Star with skipper Bruce and walking guide Lucie. Can’t think of a better way to explore and learn about the history... read more

    6 March 2023

    star rating  What an amazing experience exploring the beautiful Waiheke Island with Gabrielle, a passionate nature lover with in depth knowledge of the flora and fauna of the island. Gabrielle also... read more

    Anthony N
    11 March 2023
  • star rating  A Day on Waiheke Island - We had a wonderful day on Waiheke Island. Our guide, Nydia, was terrific. She was friendly, she told us all about the flora and fauna as well as... read more

    14 March 2023

    star rating  A great day out - I really enjoyed my day out. Lucie was a great guide, offering lots of information about the history of the island and the flora and fauna. The meet and greet... read more

    1 March 2023

    star rating  Great walk - We took the vineyards and bush walk around Waiheke. I don't really like bus tours and this was a nice option. A little longer walk than advertised but... read more

    6 March 2023
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