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North Island

Walking tracks

There are three tracks offering walks that take between 10 and 15 minutes or enjoy a 45 minute loop walk. The mid, high and low contour tracks traverse almost the entire length of the reserve, and connect with the council owned walkway network. The high tracks provide breathtaking views across Matiatia Bay and beyond.

The locals

Kererū, morepork, tūī, grey warbler, white-faced heron, long-finned eel, harrier hawks, and pukeko.

Getting there

The reserve offers a scenic route between Matiatia passenger ferry terminal and Oneroa. You can also wander through the reserve to reach several vineyards in Church Bay.

Walk up Ocean View Road to the reserve, or down from Nick Johnstone Drive in Church Bay.

The guiding principle behind this revegetation project is described in its name—Atawhai Whenua, a kindness toward the land. Like much of the island and the rest of Aotearoa, the area was deforested, over-grazed hill country before replanting with native trees and plants began in 1993.

On the reserve, there is a memorial sculpture of a kererū for the late Don Chapple, who led and oversaw the restoration project. More than 40,000 plants have been planted on what was once a badly eroded hillside and weed-choked wetland. Volunteers have also spent hours removing weeds from the wetland and bush.

The overall vision has been to restore the whole ecotone sequence from ridge top through freshwater wetland to the sea. Many broad-leaved and podocarp species common to Waiheke have been planted in the reserve over the years. Planting is ongoing to ensure the bush continues to thrive.

Two uncommon plant species - wheki-ponga (fibrous tree fern) and water fern - are found on the wetland margins. The council owned wetland was restored and replanted by Forest & Bird, in part to recreate kahikatea forest with pukatea, maire, tawaki and ti kouka along the margins.

Atawhai Reserve is fortunate in that Waiheke Island is free from possums, weasels and wild ferrets.

This reserve has recently become part of Auckland's Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. This park protects natural wilderness areas on both land and sea.  

The land for Atawhai Whenua reserve was gifted to Forest & Bird in 1993 by Nick & Nettie Johnstone.


Atawhai Reserve Map

Atawhai Reserve Map


Project or Reserve contact

Jessica Chapple

Last updated:

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