Camp on Urupukapuka Island

Otehei Bay, Rawhiti, New Zealand

  • Activities:

    Chillin, Camping, Photography, Swimming, Backpacking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Year Round

Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Cliff Jumping

Enjoy this remote island with beach camping and a 360-degree view of the Bay of Islands.

Urupukapuka Island is the largest island in the Bay of Islands, about a 3-4 hour drive from Auckland.

From Russell or Paihia, the trip out to the island takes about 30-45 minutes. Most boats will drop you at Otehei Bay, although you can drop anchor at Urupukapuka and Sunset Bays, as well.

Otehei Bay is beautiful, with a sheltered white sand beach where you can hire a kayak or grab lunch at the café, but it's also where most tourists hang around. Grab a quick bite if you must, then high-tail it out of there. From Otehei Bay, head east along the marked Otehei Bay track for about 15 minutes or until you reach the top of the hill. From there you will have a grea vantage point of the campgrounds and will be able to see clearly your path there.

Just a short hike up and over the ridge behind Otehei Bay will reward you with stunning 360-degree views of the Bay of Islands before you descend down to Urupukapuka Bay, one of the three campgrounds on the island.

Set up camp here, right by the beach, have a quick swim to cool off, then hike right back up the ridge to follow any one of the self-guided hikes on the island. The trails range in length and difficulty, and take you through archeological sites and places of significance to the local Maori.

You can fish, swim, kayak, hike, or just relax almost anywhere on Urupukapuka Island, but you've got to pre-book your campsite before you get there. You can do that on the Department of Conservation website.

NOTE: Urupukapuka Island is free of pests like rats, mice, and stoats, so there are some rules in place to keep the island clean and protected, like a 'pack in pack out' policy that means you've got to take all rubbish with you. Make sure you read up about the island on the Department of Conservation website.

Explore Paihia has also added a ferry service to encourage people to visit the island, rather than having to hire a water taxi or pay for a tour. It runs several times a day to Otehei Bay for $20NZD return, but you've got to pre-book it before you go, and it's popular in summer. Call Explore Paihia at 0800 365 744 for more info (NZ calls only - if international, use + 64 9 359 5987).

Campground coordinates: Latitude: -35.21763532, Longitude: 174.23846606

Pack List

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Other camping necessities
  • Food
  • Spare clothes for swimming, hiking, etc
  • Emergency kit
  • Money for food at the café if necessary
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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Overall rating: 

Leave a Review

I lived in this region for 3 years and Urupukapuka was a favourite weekend escape. It immediately transports you to another world. The island is surprisingly quiet outside of the main holidays, so I recommend you check it out then. Amazing swimming, trail running and even cold beers available around the corner at Otahei Bay. Ask a friendly local and you may even be able to find some fresh scallops for dinner!

11 months ago
11 months ago

Murielle Baker

I'm an activity-lovin' explorer from New Zealand. Let me share my adventures with you.

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