Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, is known for its coffee culture, art, and culture scene, and outdoor activities. But for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and explore a unique piece of New Zealand’s history and nature, a visit to Matiu/Somes Island is a must.
Located in the middle of Wellington Harbor, Matiu/Somes Island is a historic reserve and nature reserve that is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including several species of native birds and lizards that are found nowhere else in the world. The island has a rich history, with evidence of human habitation dating back to the 12th century. It was also used as a quarantine station during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and as a internment camp during World War II. Today, the island is open to visitors, who can take a ferry from the Wellington waterfront to explore the island’s natural beauty and learn about its fascinating history.
One of the island’s main draws is its wildlife. Visitors can see a variety of bird species, including the endangered little spotted kiwi, as well as lizards such as the tuatara and skinks. The island is also home to a range of plant species, including the rare and endangered Wellington speargrass. A guided tour of the island is a great way to learn about the unique flora and fauna that call Matiu/Somes Island home.
But the island is not just about its wildlife; it also has a rich history that is worth exploring. Visitors can learn about the island’s Maori history, including the pre-European use of the island and the arrival of Europeans in the 19th century. The island’s quarantine station and internment camp are also of historical significance and visitors can take a tour of the camps to learn about the experiences of those who were interned there.
The island is also a perfect spot for a picnic or a walk. Visitors can take a hike on one of the island’s walking tracks and enjoy views of the harbor and the city. There are also several picnic areas and shelters on the island, making it a great place to relax and enjoy a meal.
Overall, Matiu/Somes Island is a hidden gem in Wellington, offering visitors a chance to escape the city and experience a unique blend of history and nature. The island is accessible by ferry and visitors are welcome to explore the island at their own pace. It’s a perfect day trip for those looking for a unique and off the beaten path experience in Wellington. So, next time you’re in Wellington, make sure to add Matiu/Somes Island to your itinerary and discover this hidden treasure in the heart of Wellington Harbor.