Moutohora / Whale Island
Moutohora, or Whale Island, lies nine kilometres off the coast and dominates the view from our Holiday Park. 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.
Access is restricted to permit holders, approved tour parties and school groups only. Permits can be obtained from the Department of Conservation office in Whakatane.
Numerous archaeological sites of both Maori and European origin have been recorded here, including an extensive pa site on Pa Hill and a number of house terraces and garden sites. 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 Crown in 1984. Once the goats which had been introduced to the island were eradicated, a planting programme began and 12,000 plants covering 45 species are now established.
Today Moutohora is covered with a mosaic of pohutukawa, mahoe, kanuka, bracken fern and grassland. There are 190 native and 110 introduced plant species. The island is now completely free of the goats, rats, cats and rabbits which previously devastated native plants and animals.