Located just 80 kilometres north-east of Auckland, Little Barrier, as it is affectionately known, is described as "the most intact ecosystem in New Zealand" and is considered to be one of the most important reserves of its kind in the world. Established as a "Nature Reserve" in 1895, it is, without doubt, the jewel in the crown of the Hauraki Gulf islands and is described by the Department of Conservation as "an invaluable refuge for rare and endangered plants, birds and animals whose mainland habitats have been destroyed".

Maori named the island 'Te Hauturu-o-Toi', resting place of the wind. Legend has it that the island is the centre post of the great net of Taramainuku who cast his net from Cape Colville across the Hauraki Gulf to the Whangarei Heads. The Hen and Chicken Islands are the floats.

Little Barrier Island (Te Hauturu-o-Toi) is one of the few remaining places in New Zealand that can give us an impression of what this country may have looked like before human settlement.

Hauturu's 3,083-hectare landmass makes it one of New Zealand's largest offshore island reserves. It is home to a greater number of endangered birds than any other island in the country and is also home to over 400 species of native plants.

This is a place where magnificent coastal pohutukawa reach out across the rugged, boulder-strewn shores; one of the few places where majestic kauri mingle with beech to dominate the ridges; a place where giant rata and tawa are dense in the deep valleys; and where ferns, mosses and lichens cloak the trees that grow on the moist heights of this frequently cloud-capped island.

It is a veritable botanical paradise, with a wide range of forest types.

Te Hauturu-o-Toi is a haven for many of New Zealand's most threatened species, ranging from the prehistoric tuatara to the wetapunga; from the giant earthworm to both species of native bat; and a number of indigenous birds and plants that are no longer found on the mainland. Only on this island does the hihi (stitchbird) survive without human intervention, it is the only known breeding ground of the New Zealand storm petrel, and it is the only major breeding ground of the Cook's petrel.

The Auckland Conservancy of the Department of Conservation (DOC) manages Little Barrier Island (Hauturu) under the Conservation Act 1987.

Such is the island’s importance and vulnerability as a sanctuary, it is critical that human impact is kept to a minimum. Visitor numbers and movements are strictly regulated. Consequently, you may not land on Little Barrier (Hauturu) without a pre-arranged permit from DOC.

DOC Rangers, resident on the island, are responsible for day-to-day management and for the coordination of visiting research groups and working parties.

Did you know?
Hauturu is home to a greater number of threatened bird species than any other island in the country.