Have you heard about this little Island close to Lyttelton? No?! It is such an interesting place, rich in history and scenic landscapes all easily explored in one day. Perfect for a day out in Christchurch!
Let me show you where it is and what you can do there…..
Quail Island is a small island but Canterbury’s largest one, located within Lyttelton Harbour in the South Island of New Zealand.(Retrieved from: DOC, http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/canterbury/places/otamahua-quail-island-recreation-reserve/things-to-do/otamahua-quail-island-tracks/).
It is only 20 minutes from Christchurch city centre (by car) and easily accessible by the Quail Island Ferry from Lyttelton. Black Cat Cruises operate a regular 7 day ferry service to the island from October to April. In winter, from May to October, there is no regular ferry service as the island is looked after by the Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust.
Uninhabited by the New Zealand native peoples, it was often visited to collect shellfish, flax, bird’s eggs as well as stone for tools which explain better its Maori name “Otamahua” which means “place where children collect sea eggs”.
Regarding its English Name, it was Captain Mein Smith who named the island ‘Quail’ after seeing native quail here in 1842; they were extinct by 1875. The island is 81 hectares in area, with a high point of 86 metres. It lies in the flooded crater of an extinct volcano so promises wonderful views of the surrounding Banks Peninsula.
While today, New-Zealanders and travelers enjoy Quail Island for its beaches, walks and peaceful environment. In the past, it had complete different purposes. Used as a Farm base from Europeans in 1851, it then became a quarantine station in 1875 and a small leper colony from 1907–1925. It was also a place to train dogs used in Antarctic expeditions of the early 20th century. To this day you can still see the remains of the kennels of where Scott and Shackleton kept their dogs. The island was declared a recreation reserve in 1975.
Things to do
It is a small Island but you have got plenty of things to do: walking, swimming, picnics as well as a bird-watching barricade. It is a great spot to spend some time with family and friends and have a great barbecue. You can also see and explore the incredible ships’ graveyard along the Quail Island track.
Tracks that you can do on Quail Island:
– Whakamaru Beach (Swimmers beach) – 10 min
– Discovery trail – 1 hr
– Ōtamahua/Quail Island Walkway (full island circuit)- 2 hr 30 min
Map of Ōtamahau / Quail Island (Retrieved from: http://www.quailisland.org.nz/)
Kiwi Ranger programme- how does it work?
Really easy! You just need to pick up your free booklet from the Quail Island ferry, or the Lyttelton i-SITE (65 London Street, Lyttelton).
Then, enjoy your day discovering this amazing island through the activities in your KIWI RANGER booklet.
“You’ll be challenged to imagine living a lonely island life with no TV or Xbox, and competing in a race to the Pole. Explore the traditional values and uses of plants, and become a ‘word witch’ in a place that inspired Margaret Mahy to write. Bring to life a derelict vessel at the ship’s graveyard, and imagine the dangerous journey to collect bird’s eggs from high cliffs.”
At the end of your experience, do not forget to return your completed booklet either on the ferry or Lyttelton i-SITE and earn your Kiwi Ranger badge!
Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust
The Ōtamahua/Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust and the Department of Conservation are currently working to remove pests and re-vegetate the island, with the aim of eventually re-introducing native wildlife. Banks Peninsula tree weta have recently been transferred to the island – you may see custom-built weta homes attached to the trunks of manuka trees.
“Since 1997 dedicated volunteers have worked to restore the native ecology of Otamahua or Quail Island. Volunteer groups contribute more than 5,600 hours annually, weeding, planting and monitoring mice traps. As the plantings mature, the island is slowly being transformed. Native bird numbers have increased as trees mature and provide more nesting sites and a more varied food source” (Retrieved from http://www.quailisland.org.nz).
If you are planning on coming over to Quail Island we ask that you read our Environmental Checklist to help us maintain a pest free environment and protect our native plants and animals.
- To facilitate the restoration of indigenous vegetation and fauna on Otamahua / Quail Island and provide refuge for locally extinct, or rare and endangered species of the Banks Peninsula region;
- to recognise, protect and enhance the natural values and the landscape character of the island;
- to recognise historical sites and respect historic values of relevance both to the tangata whenua of Whakaraupo and to non-Maori;
- to encourage public understanding, awareness and care of the island and its historic, cultural and natural values, and to foster interest in the restoration project through publicity and education;
- to recognise and accommodate public use of the island;
- to encourage relevant research on the natural features and cultural history of the island;
- through a partnership between the tangata whenua, Department of Conservation and the Trust to achieve each of the above and assist in the management of the island.
who help to maintain, re-store and preserve the natural habitat.
The Black Cat team recently visited Quail Island with the trust to spend the day planting trees. You can watch the video here….
Click http://www.quailisland.org.nz/index.php/support to find out how you can support the Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust.
For more details, please see the link: http://blackcat.co.nz/quail-island-adventures