Zane Grey's and Maori's Favourite Island
Urupukapuka is one of New Zealand's most looked after destinations and for good reason. Home of the ancient Maori tribes, with 66 archeological sites most dating prior to European arrival, Urupukapuka is a protected reserve since the 1970s. Known as the only one island in the Bay of Islands that is open and accessible to the public, this rich archeological landscape with unique variety and density is the place where Maori and European history excels. Even though the Urupukapuka name is usually connected to history and archeology, it also gained fame as a fishing resort in 1927 when the author Zane Grey used this very spot for game fishing.
The Key to Understanding the Past
The Bay of Islands are located in Nea Zealand's North Island's crown. Urupukapuka is the largest landmass of all the 144 islands in the Bay, covering 208 hectares (520 acres). The main landing point on this historical appealing island is a wharf at Otehei Bay. Due to its size and its position, Urupukapuka had a pivotal role in the economy and politics of the Bay of Islands in pre-European times. The first inhabitants of Urupukapuka are said to be the Ngare Raumati, one of the oldest tribe in the area, followed by the Maori community, a so called ''hapu” , sub-tribe of the Ngare.
Following Maori Traces
Care to take a trip to the past? In Urupukapuka you will discover the old ways of the Maori a sub- tribe with an important relationship to the sea, which occupied this territory for over 1000 years. Walking these ancient lands, you will get to see, explore and interpret their ways of living by the archeological evidence they left behind. Picking one of the archeological walks you will get to discover among the 66 significant sites 8 pa, fortified villages believed to have been built after 1500 AD which served as forts as well as gardens, food storage buildings; most of them in good condition.
Ground and Underwater Exploring
An organized Urupukapuka Archeological Walk can take up to 5 hours and is designed in clockwise direction, following the outer edge of the bays. You will be able to choose among the Southern loop (more sites, overlooking the bays) or the Northern loop (few sites but interesting, dramatic views from high cliffs) as shorter versions to gain archeological experience.
The Maori had a strong relationship to the sea because of the great marine variety encountered here. Dive into the deep in the Nautilus Subsea Adventure, a submarine which will offer you a close view of the blue sea filled with eagle rays, snappers, trevallys, king fish or sea urchins.
Urupukapuka is an island which can give you a clear picture of the past and bring you closer to the sea. It is a destination for the curious, for the ones who want to compare the past with the present and for those who feel relaxation if they are close to the sea.