Elspeth swimming at Kawau Island, Northland, New Zealand 1992
photo by Phillip Capper


Kawau Island was originally settled by early migrations of Maori people. From time to time tribes contested for the right to live on the island, which was eventually abandoned in the 1820s after a particularly bloody skirmish during the musket wars. A manganese mine was established on the island in the 1840s; shortly after, copper was discovered by accident. Fascinating ruins of the underground seashore copper mine, a pumping engine house and a small smelter remain today.

In 1862 the island was purchased by one of New Zealand's first governors, Sir George Grey, as a private residence. He employed architects to significantly extend the mine manager's house to create the stately mansion that still stands today, fully restored in its sheltered sunny bay. In the valley behind the house, the governor created an extensive garden containing plants and animals from all over the world. The magnificent house and park-like gardens are open to visitors, and colourful peacocks still strut the lawns. Scenic hiking trails on the island range in length from half an hour to several hours duration, and are mostly easy walking. Many of the routes follow old tracks originating from Mansion House valley.

Ferries and water taxis travel to Kawau Island daily from Sandspit Wharf near Warkworth, about one and a half hour's drive north of Auckland.

Copyright 1999-2009 Tourism New Zealand

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The photos displayed on this page are the property of one of the following authors:

Phillip Capper, Robert Thomson, WorldIslandInfo.com, Robyn Gallagher

Some photos courtesy of: . The photos provided by Flickr are under the copyright of their owners.

This travel guide also includes text from Wikitravel articles, all available at WikitravelView full credits

This travel guide also includes text from Wikipedia articles, all available at WikipediaView full credits

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