Kawau Island

Map of Kawau with Historic Reserve in green
Map of Auckland to Kawau (Top Right)

Kawau Island is an island in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf. Most of the island is privately owned but 172 ha of it is an historic reserve managed by DOC (Departement of Conservation).


Mansion House The first Europeans to populate the islands in the 1840's were attracted by the discovery of manganese and copper ore. By 1850 parts of Kawau were crowded with miner's homes and the mine became one of the most productive in the country. However the lure of better prospects in the Coromandel and Great Barrier lead to the mine's closure in 1855. Today, the remains of the coppermine exists inside the historic reserve and can be reached by a walking track from Mansion House.

In 1862 Sir George Grey (the Governer and Premier of New Zealand in the Victorian era) bought the island. He transformed the 10 room mine manager's home into a mansion. He spend a large part of his personal fortune on both the mansion and the island. He sold the island in 1888 and Mansion House went through a succession of owners - it became a boarding house then a famous guest house. Mansion House deteriorated over the years due to a lack of maintenance. In 1951 Alan Horsfall saw the urgent need to preserve the house and so bought it and the grounds. He sold them for the inclusion in the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park in 1967. The Mansion House was then operated as a Licensed Hotel for 10 years.

In 1977 the Park Board began the restoration of Mansion House and restored and furnished it to how it was in Grey's time.

Present Day

Mansion House
Bay Today Mansion House and its Grounds are open for visitors to inspect. Sir George Grey was an enthusiastic collector of exotic plants and wildlife. This can still be seen in the variety of plants around Mansion House and the wallabies, rosellas, kookaburras and peacocks on the island.

There are a network of walks which link the historic sites and scenic lookouts. Ferries make regular crossings to the island and it is a popular destination for yachts and powerboats.

Our 1995 Kawau Island Trip
Our 1996 Kawau Island Trip
Our 1995 Motuora Island Trip
Back to the Waitakere Rovers Log Book Index

Find out about other Hauraki Gulf Islands