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Occupied by Ngare Raumati then Ngapuhi early in 19th Century, the island has significant historic and cultural importance.
The island is a great place for exploring the archaeological walk, fishing, swimming and all types of water sports.
The island has a long history of human occupation and as the largest island of Ipipiri, Urupukapuka has been extensively used by people probably for the last millennium.
Urupukapuka’s diversity of archaeological sites and their good state of preservation makes it one of New Zealand’s most significant archaeological islands. There are at least eight pa on headlands, numerous surface features such as garden sites and storage pits. These are all easily accessible from the shore on an interpreted walk.
Urupukapuka was an important hub with satellite communities on Waewaetorea and Okahu and a gateway for arrivals by sea from the south. Its many sandy beaches with easy access to headlands and extensive land for gardening and the number of sites suggest that Urupukapuka was densely populated by Maori and was likely to have provided them an excellent living.
Cook and du Fresne noted settlement on the islands to the west but did not visit Urupukapuka, and in 1839 a whaling captain named Brind claimed to have bought 150 acres on Urupukapuka from the Ngapuhi chief Rewa for one mare valued at £45, which was later not upheld.
Later in the 1800s two European families leased some land for grazing began to clear the island and build a fence line. In the early 1900s the Baker family acquired land on Urupukapuka and farmed on the island. By 1927 Otehei Bay had become the base of American Zane Grey’s fishing expeditions and his world famous resort was later established there.
The island was sold to the Crown in 1971 and gazetted as a Recreation Reserve in 1979. It was managed as part of the Bay of Islands Maritime and Historic Park as an interpreted archaeological landscape for public recreation.
TVNZ’s Coasters Visits Urupukapuka Island
This video from series 1, episode 3 of the TVNZ programme ‘Coasters’ takes you to Urupuakpuka Island.
Al Brown visits Urupukapuka Bay campsite and the Urupukapuka Island track. He talks with Andrew Blanshard, DOC Ranger Historic Assets about the history of Urupukapuka Island.
Urupukapuka Bay campsite and Urupukapuka Island track: from 7:50 min – 10:00 min