Atawhai-Whenua Reserve, Waiheke Island

White faced heron, photo: Brian Massa

White faced heron, photo: Brian Massa

Walking tracks: There are short three walkways (each takes approximately 10-15 minutes). Mid, high and low contour tracks traverse almost the entire length of the reserve, and connect with the council owned walkway network. The high tracks provide breathtaking views across Matiatia Bay and beyond.

Size: 17 hectares 

The locals: Kereru, morepork, tui, grey warbler, white-faced heron, long-finned eel, harrier hawks, and pukeko.

Getting there: The reserve is situated on Lot 50, Church Bay Estate, Maiatia, Waiheke Island – it is accessible from Ocean View Road & Nick Johnstone Drive.

The guiding principle behind this revegetation project is described in its name—Atawhai Whenua, a kindness toward or caring for the land. As deforested, long-overgrazed and eroded hill country the area was typical of much of what the island (and indeed New Zealand) has suffered.

On the reserve, there is a memorial sculpture of a Kereru for the late Don Chapple, who led and oversaw the restoration project, which has seen more than 40,000 plants planted on what was a badly eroded hillock and wetland.

The overall vision has been to restore the whole ecotone sequence from ridge top through freshwater wetland to the sea. Replanting - with broadleaved and podocarp species common to Waiheke - is now mostly completed.

Two uncommon plant species wheki-ponga (fibrous tree fern) and water fern are found on the wetland margins. This council owned wetland was restored and replanted by Forest & Bird, in part to recreate kahikatea forest with pukatea, maire, tawaki and ti kouka along the margins.

Atawhai Reserve is fortunate in that Waiheke Island is free from possums, weasels and wild ferrets. 

This reserve has recently become part of Auckland's Hauraki Gulf Marine Park - this park protects natural wilderness areas on both land and sea.  

It was gifted to F&B in 1993 by Nick & Nettie Johnstone.

See a map of Atawhai reserve here