Quail Island Walkway (Otamahua)

Quail Island
Lyttelton, Canterbury
Rare as islands are along the Canterbury coastline, a peep inside the mouth of Lyttleton harbour reveals the most interesting and largest the region has. A mini-mountain of volcanic rock only 250metres high and totalling 80 hectares, Quail Island was known to NgaiTahu as Te Kawa kawa, and later Otamahua.

The name means ‘place where young people gather seabird eggs,’ and it seems that is what Ngai Tahu did here as well as collecting Kaimoana (seafood). What the European settlers did is rename it Quail Island, then use it for a chain of varied and interesting uses until the present day conservation status took hold.
Visitors without their own waka (canoe,boat) need to take a Ferryboat from Lyttleton, regular services running during the warmer months.

Quail island is easy to explore with a network of tracks and remnants and reminders of its history scattered around. It was used as a quarantine station (an 1874 barracks remains from these days) and a leper colony. Among the animals quarantined on the island were dogs and ponies being taken south by Shackleton and Scott to Antarctica in the “heroic age” of exploration of that continent. Look for the ship's graveyard on the western side

The new millennium has seen a new chapter start for the interesting little island when campaigning and fundraising finally combined as Quail Island ecological restoration project. Rabbits were determined to be the primary predator preventing an earlier restoration attempt from taking off, and these were done away with in the 1990s. Enthusiastic with volunteers have now planted over 40,000 trees.
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