Nãu mai, haere mai

Welcome to Matakohe - Limestone Island, a sanctuary in the heart of Whangarei Harbour. The island has been the focus of restoration efforts since 1989, with a mission to restore Matakohe to a functioning coastal broadleaf forest ecosystem.

Open for everyone to enjoy, and just a boat ride from Whangarei city or a short paddle from the suburb of Onerahi, community input has transformed Matakohe-Limestone Island from degraded pasture into a regenerating forest habitat – 155,000 trees planted and counting.

Mammalian predators have been eradicated from the island, meaning this ‘new’ forest is now a safe home for a growing variety of threatened native fauna that have been re-introduced, including kiwi, banded rail, New Zealand dotterel, moko skink and forest gecko.

The island is also the site of Matakohe pa and once extensive kumara gardens, as well as the impressive ruins of one of Whangarei's earliest industrial sites - the Limestone Island cement works, founded in 1856.

Restoration efforts are coordinated by members of the community, the Friends of Matakohe–Limestone Island Society (FOMLI), in partnership with Whangarei District Council, made possible thanks to the support of numerous partners and sponsors such as Golden Bay Cement.


A five year project to establish a population of grey-faced petrel (northern mutton bird or Oi) on the island ended in 2008. However, numbers are thought to be insufficient, so this and next year will see a 'top-up' of petrel to Limestone Island. Fifty fluffy fat chicks will be transferred from Taranga (Hen) Island to artificial burrows on Limestone Island. The chicks are chosen so that they are only 2-3 weeks from being able to fly but have not yet emerged from their burrows on Taranga Island. Once they emerge (now on Limestone Island) they imprint on the surroundings, identifying it as 'home'. After some 5-7 years feeding at sea, they return to start looking for mates and begin nest building. Hey Presto, nature takes care of the rest and the island has a new petrel colony.

If you and friends or family would like to come across to the island from mid-December 2014 to the end of December 3 January to watch the chicks being handled and fed, then please contact Dwane Kokich on 437 6712 (evenings are best).

Trips across are limited to 15 persons and will happen on each second day to the end of December 3 January, starting 16 December. The dates are listed below showing the number of vacancies left.

  • Tue  16 December - 4 observers across, wet and windy but everyone happy
  • Thur 18 December - 6 observers across, hot and sticky, a frog chorus from all the ponds.
  • Sat  20 December - 15 observers across, bonus viewing of kiwi (a transmitter change) and kiwi chick.
  • Mon  22 December - 16 observers across, bonus viewing on return journey of a kiwi chick being brought onto the island.
  • Wed  24 December - no observers across, busy with Christmas preparations methinks!
  • Fri  26th December - 11 observers across, three family groups, a nice day was had.
  • Sun  28 December - 10 observers across, hot day, 26 birds still in the burrows - hurry and fly away little petrels.
  • Tue  30 December - 15 observers across, plus 7 (with approval) came across a little later in their own boat. Two petrel have flown.
  • Thur 1 January - 15 observers across, fern birds once again seen in the grass when walking up to the Pa. Two more petrel fledged.
  • Sat    3 January - 15 observers across, another hot day with lots of other visitors also on the island.

A big thank you to all the people who came across to see the petrels - 107 of you in total, and that is not counting the wonderful volunteers who helped feed the birds.

While the trips to observe the feeding process has officially finished, there is the Volunteer's work day on Wednesday 7 January. With a token amount of work expected, you may come across and see the petrels being fed on that day. The boat leaves at 9am and returns about 2pm.



Adopt A Spot got underway in 2013. Would you like to have a spot of your own to look after on the island? Or make it a social occasion as well and involve friends, family or workmates. The spot can be as big or as little as you want, as long as you can go across to the island three or more times a year. Want to find out more, just give Dwane a ring on 4376712 (evenings are best) or Bernie, the Ranger on the island, 4360923, or click on the link below.




Thanks to everyone who came along - you did a great job! The trees are looking very happy with plenty of rain to help settle them into their new life on the island :)

Missed out? Never mind as there is always next year. Or, why not come along with the 'Wednesday Wollies' who are a happy band of volunteers that come over once a month and get stuck in to all sorts of jobs on the island. Volunteer Wednesdays run the first Wednesday of each month (unless otherwise advised), with pick up from the Onerahi jetty at 9am, returning at about 2pm. You can come as often or as infrequently as you want. Though you work at your own pace, a certain amount of fitness is needed for getting around the island.

Sounds like you? Contact the Ranger on (09) 436 0923 or email limestonerangers@gmail.com for more details.



Seven very special Auckland green geckos were released from quarantine with a special surprise, two tiny geckos which had been born during their stay in Auckland. These guys arrived and as they were the last green gecko’s for the island a small welcoming ceremony was called for. Fred Tito blessed the lizards on to the island and they were released at a site where they will get plenty of sun and lots of moths and other invertebrates.



Whilst carrying out improvement work to the petrel burrows we found our first petrel of the year, Yay! This return mirrors last years by about two days and was a real treat for all of us (and they smell nice). The upcoming petrel top-up has also been applied and we are trying to organise sponsorship for this. Any seabird twitchers out there keep your ears open for some Oi work at the end of the year - biting, vomiting and pooing guaranteed apparently!


LIMESTONE TRIPS: Thinking of coming to the Island?

Just a quick reminder that most Sundays the good vessel the MV Waipapa leaves from the town basin in Whangarei for a harbour cruise with a stopover at the island for approximately an hour. This is a awesome way for people to visit this awesome place that usually could not normally do so with a friendly crew to boot. Check below for sailing dates and more details.