This beautiful extinct volcano is a wildlife refuge and marine reserve, lying about 35km from Tauranga. There’s plenty to do: walking, swimming, snorkelling and viewing the wildlife —there are healthy populations of native birds including tui, morepork, fantail and kaka.
DOC produce a handy pamphlet that offers background and tips on what to see and do ($2, from visitor centres). The Island is the summit of a 700-metre volcano, rising from the sea floor, with a history of violent eruptions —the last only 6000 years ago. The Island’s black obsidian (a natural glass formed from rapidly cooling lava) was prized by early Maori for making tools and weapons, and fought over in tribal battles. It’s a 3-hour boat trip to the island from downtown Tauranga or Waihi.