4. Moutohora (Whale) Island Sanctuary Tour from Whakatane
Departing from Whakatāne Wharf, the journey to Moutohorā is just a short 15-minute boat ride aboard a comfortable catamaran “The Moutohorā Cat”. Designed to be able to nestle right onto the shore, disembarking is as easy as walking down some stairs and stepping onto the beach.
Once ashore, a fully-guided tour means you can learn about the island's unique flora and fauna and the conservation effort focused on Moutohorā for the past 50 years. Since becoming pest-free, bird life on Moutohorā has flourished and there is a chance to see a number of different species including saddleback/tieke, kakariki/red-crowned parakeet, little brown kiwi, bellbirds, tui, grey warbler; many of which are endangered or seldom seen on the New Zealand mainland.
The walk includes a visit to the island's saddle (the dip between the two highest summits) for spectacular views out to White Island and a visit to Sulphur Bay where geothermal hot springs come up through the sand allowing for you to dig your own hot pool on the beach. Please note there are no changing facilities or bathrooms on the island.
After enjoying a swim, you will return to Boulder Bay and re-board “The Cat” where, if conditions permit, the catamaran may circumnavigate the island before returning to Whakatāne. There may also be an opportunity to stop and spend time with any marine life encountered along the way.
Due to the precious nature of this pest-free island, access is highly restricted to the general public. The only way to visit the island is with a Department of Conservation approved concessionaire. This tour operator is permitted to take a small number of visitors to the island each day.