Preserve Whangamatā Islands
The Whangamatā Islands remain under private ownership, with three of the Islands (not including Hauturu) classified as a Wildlife Sanctuary under the Wildlife Act administered by the Department of Conservation and the Kaitiaki (guardians).
While the scenic beauty of Whenuakura (Donut Island) is on par with world-renowned spots along the Pacific Coast such as New Chum Beach, Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach, Whenuakura was never intended to be a visitor attraction. For decades the Whangamatā community and regular holidaymakers enjoyed this piece of paradise as their own.
The landowners have been eager to see the islands return to their former glory as a protected wildlife habitat for native flora and fauna, preserving the special features that earned their status in the first place. As recently as the 1980s there were tuatara on the islands. Many native New Zealand birds continue to inhabit Whenuakura.
The owners are keen to empower the community to keep protecting their beloved backyard and also ensure the safety of those in the Whangamatā harbour. Slowly the local community is being educated on the cultural and ecological significance of Whenuakura and the other Whangamatā Islands. They’re also keen to continue protecting their treasured islands so future generations can experience these taonga in their primal state.
The majority of visitors who venture to Donut Island are oblivious to the fact that they’re visiting a wildlife sanctuary, established to preserve the very attributes that have lured them there in the first place. The conditions of the sanctuary, put in place to protect the flora and fauna, mean that there is no landing or climbing permitted on Whenuakura.
The owners continue to work together with the Department of Conservation, Thames-Coromandel District Council, Whangamatā Surf Life Saving, Whangamatā Harbour Master and other community groups in a quest to establish a safe world-class eco-tourism experience to protect and enhance the natural attributes of this taonga (treasure).
Help Preserve Whenuakura Donut Island
You can help preserve Whenuakura by understanding the cultural, ecological and historical significance of the place. The best way to do this is by travelling there with a certified tour company that will bring the Whangamatā Islands to life with detailed commentary on why this group of islands is regarded as taonga to the local people.
Join in the drive to preserve and enhance Whenuakura, the Whangamatā Islands and the surrounding marine environment.