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Kawau Island, or Te Kawau Tumaro o Toi (the sentinel Cormorant of Toi), is one of the largest islands that make up the Hauraki Gulf and can be found 8kms off the coast about 45 km north of Auckland. It is of major cultural, spiritual and historical significance to Ngati Manuhiri and has long associations with their Te Kawerau relatives. Kawau is also the boundary for Ngati Wai and Marutuahu interests.
The climate is sub-tropical with majority of the Island covered in bush, mainly Kanuka, Manuka and Pohutukawa but there are also excellent stands of Puriri and Kauri plus many more pockets of other native species.
The Island covers an area of approximately 5000 acres, is 8km by 5km at its longest axes, and is almost bisected by the long inlet of Bon Accord Harbour which is geologically a “drowned valley”. The island has remained largely in private ownership except for around 10% which is owned by the Department of Conservation (DOC) and this includes the famous Mansion House in Mansion House Bay.
The Island has a small population of permanent residents and many holiday dwellings, and is a popular destination for pleasure craft cruising the Hauraki Gulf. A permanent population of approximately 80 live on the island, with the main population based at South Cove, North Cove, and Bon Accord Harbour. This population swells to hundreds over weekends and holiday time. Majority of the population is based around the water’s edge with access by private jetties, apart from South Cove and Schoolhouse Bay which have public jetty access and roading to the various homes in the subdivisions.
The crystal clear waters of Kawau Bay are a paradise for fishing and sailing and there are many sheltered anchorages for boaties. Electricity, phone and all modern communications services are available on the Island and mail and other items are delivered as required. There is no reticulated water on Kawau Island so the majority of properties rely on tank water for their domestic supply and most Kawau residents have septic tanks or bio-waste systems. There is a café open at the Mansion House reserve from Labour weekend onwards Saturday and Sundays and most days from December during the summer season for brunch and lunch. It is also available for weddings and private functions. The Kawau Boating Club Club provides fuel and has limited stores.
There are several holiday baches and houses to let, self contained holiday flats and bed and breakfast accommodation (all meals available). Only minutes from the mainland, Kawau Island offers the ideal “away from it all” holiday venue, no roads, no cars applies to the majority of the island.
There are many native birds on the Island and as you wander around you will hear and see tuis, fantails, wood pigeons, kingfishers, silver-eyes, grey warblers, the cheeky flightless weka and also many different sea birds. Occasionally you may see and hear bright-coloured rosellas and kookaburras, native to Australia but settled on the Island. As dusk approaches the sounds of moorporks can be heard in the bush and if you are lucky you may even hear a kiwi.