Motutaiko Island, Lake Taupo

My favorite kayak trip was to Motutaiko Island in Lake Taupo.

Kayak to Motutaiko Island

Kayak to Motutaiko Island

I think we went to Motutaiko Island three times. The first time we attempted the trip we didn’t make it. It doesn’t look too far from our launch point on the east side of the lake, but it took over an hour to kayak to this little bird paradise. We were absolutely delighted the first time we made it. There wasn’t another boat in site, so it was as though we had the entire island to ourselves.

Motutaiko Island - A cool little cavern in the side of the island

Motutaiko Island - A cavern in the side of the island

There are little coves all around the east side of Motutaiko Island. We paddled up to one and rested in the shade while eating our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Surprisingly the water was really calm on that side of the island and there weren’t too many birds. The other side of the island has birds perched on every available landing spot. As you approach they all fly off in a huge black cloud, leaving behind a disgusting white rain of poop.

Motutaiko Island

Motutaiko Island

I definitely recommend kayaking to the island to anyone in the Taupo area. There is a picnic spot north of the Motutere Motorpark about 20 minutes north of Turangi.  It is across from the Waipehi Walk. Paddle straight for the island, and if you don’t have a prissy kayak buddy, such as myself, you can probably make it there in less than an hour. We kayaked to the island, stopped for lunch, kayaked all the way around the island, fished and made it back to our car in about 6 hours. You could definitely do this in less time, but we were just enjoying the day.

Motutaiko Island - You are not allowed on this Maori land

Motutaiko Island - You are not allowed on this Maori land

Motutaiko Island, or Motu Taiko, is a protected island. It is an ecological treasure and a place of spiritual significance to the Maori people. The water around this island protected it from mammals which have been introduced to New Zealand and create problems with the native plants and birds. This makes the island a haven for local birds, such as the taiko or mutton bird, which use the island as a breeding ground. It also is home to several endangered species such as the land snail, the small scale skink, and the white and dwarf mistletoe plants.

The Maori people used this island as a stronghold in the 17th century and it served as a burial ground to Cheif Rangituamatotoru. The sacred burial cave has been violated and an article was removed so some Maori people want to seal the cave to prevent further looting.


  1. Maori of the land ?>

    People should stay away from the Island!!!! It is not a tourist attraction!

  2. Dmitry of Napier ?>

    Nice pictures. Both history and nature should be learned about and respected.

  3. yes i reckon too
    mainly pakeha’s should keep off the island coz i have heard alot of stories about that island.
    how people went there and never came back
    so i reckon all people that aint maori should stay off

  4. peter ?>

    Dont go on it, its taping to Maori, must respect the burial grounds ask a local Maori,, some bad things happened to some who did. _ respectively

  5. peter ?>

    Tapu means sacred, I spelt it tapping __ you now realize why there was no boats there it would be smothered otherwise, not even the Maoris go there unless they had special prayers to do so

  6. Maori And Proud ?>

    Visiting the island helps spark sympathy for Maori history. It’s not ideal, but it raises awareness, and it makes people appreciate our beautiful enviroment.
    Perhaps guides are the answer. Or caretakers.

  7. I have just been reading a documentary about the history of Motutaiko. The island is declared “tapu”, but the suggestion is that this is to keep out inquisitive historians, who want to study the “Non Maori” type stone walls somewhere on the island, which possibly reinforces the story that non Maori people, were here much earlir. These were the fair skinned red ehaded people, often referred to as Patupaiarehe, “the Fairy People’ (which we know don’t exist and never did), only in Mythology.

    I would apptreciate any constructive comments.

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