Whale IslandMoutohora, also known as Whale Island, lies nine kilometres off the coast near Whakatane. The 143-hectare island is a remnant volcanic cone which has eroded, leaving two peaks.
This is still an area of volcanic activity and there are hot springs on the island in Sulphur Valley and Sulphur and McEwans Bays. White Island is also located in this region. Access is restricted to permit holders and approved tour parties and school groups. Permits can be obtained from the Department of Conservation office in Whakatane. Please ask us at our Ohope Beach holiday park accommodation reception for more information on tours and obtaining permits.
Numerous archaeological sites of both Maori and European origin have been recorded on Whale Island, including an extensive pa site on Pa Hill.
The first European occupation came in the 1830s with an unsuccessful attempt to establish a shore-based whaling station. The venture failed without a single whale being captured.
In 1965 Moutohora was declared a wildlife refuge and the island was bought by the New Zealand government in 1984. Once the goats which had been introduced to the island were eradicated, a planting programme began. The island is now a stunning place to visit with a group during your stay with us at Ohope Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park.
Moutohora is now covered with a fantastic mosaic of pohutukawa, mahoe, kanuka, bracken fern and grassland. There are 190 native and 110 introduced trees and plant species on the island.
Whale Island today is completely free of animals like goats, rats, mice, cats and rabbits which previously devastated the native plants and animals. The island is now a haven for rare birds, including a breeding colony of Oi, the grey faced petrel or northern muttonbird. Little blue penguins, the threatened New Zealand dotterel and variable oystercatcher also breed on the island. Occasional visitors to the island include the threatened Caspian tern, the North Island kaka and the New Zealand falcon.