Kawau Island

Kawau Island is in the Hauraki Gulf, close to the north-eastern coast of the North Island of New Zealand. At its closest point it lies 1.4 km (0.87 mi) off the coast of the Northland Peninsula, just south of Tāwharanui Peninsula, and about 8 km (5.0 mi) by sea journey from Sandspit Wharf, and shelters Kawau Bay to the north-east of Warkworth. It is 40 km (25 mi) north of Auckland. Mansion House in the Kawau Island Historic Reserve is an important historic tourist attraction. Almost every property on the Island relies on direct access to the sea. There are only two short roads serving settlements at Schoolhouse Bay and South Cove, and most residents have private wharves for access to their front door steps.

The island is named after the Māori word for the shag (cormorant) bird



Burgess Bay (W, NW)

This has one of the best beaches on the island but is subject to ground swell. It is an excellent picnic beach in W winds with 3.6 to 5.4m of water. There is however, a delightful sandy beach on the E side, Burgess Bay which is quite safe in W weather.



Bostaquet Bay (NW,N,NE)

This is the only anchorage on the S shore of Kawau, this is sheltered in N winds with 1.8m of water on a sandy bottom. The bay should be avoided in southerly winds when it can quickly become a dangerous lee shore. Brownrigg Pt is the W entrance point and from it the shoreline turns W for a distance, then runs SSW to Elizabeth Pt, where it turns NNWanchorage is spectacular for its rugged beauty.  Anchorage can be found close in over sand with a delightful sandy beach on shore.

Very exposed to the southerly quarter and also being so open to the east there is often a slight ground swell rolling in.



South Cove (N, NE, E, SE)

South Cove is very exposed to the south and west but when the wind is in the easterly and northerly quarters it is a good anchorage.

Anchorage – Great depth of water is good at the entrance, closer to shore more suited for shallow draft vessels.

There is a public wharf for water taxi’s but it is not suitable for tying up alongside.

There is a pleasant beach and a walk of several hundred metres up a road which is very worth while for the views from the ridge.



Just to the immediate west of South Cove is Copper Mine Bay, easily recognized by the high brick chimney on the point.

Anchorage – There is an anchorage just north of the chimney at Dispute Cove – great spot for day time picnic but not suitable for overnight anchorage, except in very settled conditions.



Bon Accord Harbour

This bay is a must see for anyone visiting the area.  The view of Mansion House as you come around the corner into Bon Accord Harbour (to the starboard)

Bon Accord Harbour anchorages – there are4 numerous coves around the shore and these are all good anchorages depending on the prevailing wind direction and the depth of water required.  The holding in all anchorages is generally very good over mud.

In the upper harbor the water gets very shallow which is great for shallow draft vessels and is often not as crowded as other anchorages.



Smelting Cove

On the northern side of the Harbour is the Kawau Boating Club, there is a large jetty with fuel and water available to members only.  Shop with limited stores.  The bar and bistro is open only at certain times of the year

The ruins of the old smelting house will be seen 90m N of the substantial house and jetty previously owned by the Lidgard family, well known boat builder. Sheltered from W to NE with good holding and 1.8m close inshore, but the best anchorage is occupied by moorings. Kawau Island YC have a pier and club house just W of the W entrance point. Note: Fresh water available to members only. Fuel (diesel & petrol) at wharf. Shop with limited stores.



Mansion House Bay (NE, E, SE, S, SW)

The Mansion House was home to Governor Grey during the later 1800’s.

Mansion House is a two-storey large building built in 1845 and is a registered Category 1 Historic Place. The property has additional significance because the dwelling has been preserved along with its original setting, and the jetty built for Sir George Grey in 1875.

The bay and much of the adjoining land is part of the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park and as a result there is free public access to the area.

Anchorage – a great anchorage at most times except for strong westerly and northerlies. The holding is reasonable over mud and good depth of water close to the shore.

Make sure you keep the wharfe clear at all times as it is for public ferries.



School House Bay (Lavinia Cove)

This is possibly the best anchorage in Bon Accord Harbour but much of it is occupied by local moorings. There is 1.5m abreast the end of the jetty at the head of the bay, which is sheltered in most winds. A mud bottom with holding. There are many pleasant walks on well formed tracks from both Mansion House and Schoolhouse bays. These tracks were formed by Sir George Grey who regularly drove a carriage and pair over them. Care must be exercised in tramping around the island as many of the scrub-covered hills are honeycombed with mining shafts, particularly E of Schoolhouse and Harris Bays.



North Cove (N, NW, N, NE, E, SE, S)

This is third harbor on Kawau Island and the most protected.

There is shelter here in all wind directions but the upper part of the harbor which provides the most protection is only suitable for shallow draft vessels.

There are numerous moorings in North Cove so be careful where you anchor.

Anchorage – Holding here is very good over mud.  All of the land surrounding north cove is privately owned.



Vivian Bay (E, SE)

This bay is sheltered in easterly through to southerly winds and has a long sandy beach.

Great spot for day time picnics on shore.  Please respect the privacy of the owners who line the beach.

Anchorage – There is reasonable holding over sand


Walking trails on Kawau Island refer to www.kawauisland.org for further information.



There are numerous islands around the vicinity of Kawau Island and some of the best are:
Moturekareka Island

This is a small island off the southern edge of Kawau Island.   It is separated from nearby Motuketekete Island by Blanche Channel.  The island was the home of the renowned hermit Charles Hanson who purchased the steel sailing ship ‘Rewa’ and had her towed to the island by the tug Te Awahina, after which she was sunk as a breakwater on the northeastern side of the island.  The masts can still be seen laying in the water at the bow of the Rewa.

She was a full-rigged four-masted steel ship constructed in the English seaport of Whitehaven in Cumbria, and launched as the “Alice A.Leigh” in 1889, later changed into a four-masted barque and renamed the Rewa, now forms an artificial breakwater on the northeastern side of the island.


Motuketekete Island

This is an uninhabited island in the northern Hauraki Gulf, off the northeastern coast of New Zealand’s North Island. It is separated from Moturekareka Island to the west by the Blanche Channel.  This island was a copper smelting base prior to the construction of the large smelting house in Bon Accord Harbour, Kawau. Evidence of copper smelting can still be seen in the bay on the NW shore, where 3.4m of water will be found close inshore on a sandy bottom with reasonable shelter from E winds.


Beehive Island

This is a little island to the south west of Kawau Island. It looks like it could be tropical with the white sand surrounding it at high tide. It has many stunning views and moods depending on the time of day.

At high tide you don’t see the reef below it, at low tide there is a reasonable shelf exposed.

Bee hive island is a neat place to stop by and explore. Boat access, Jet ski, kayak is best from the north side.


Motutara This has an excellent sandy beach with 1.8 m of water, sheltered from the S and partially sheltered from the SW. It was once a quarry island, the ruins of the quarry jetty being on shore near the anchor shown on the sketch plan


Motuora Island Come to pest-free Motuora for a picnic, or camp for the night. It’s possible to hear and sometimes see (at night) North Island brown kiwi here.  Enjoy the beautiful beaches, secluded picnic spots, and clear waters. There are several walking tracks, with chances to see a variety of native wildlife including kiwi.