Located off the Bay of Plenty coast of New Zealand's North Island, Mayor Island is the top of a dormant shield volcano, rising 355 m (1,164 ft) above the waves and believed to have formed about 7,000 years ago. Known as Tuhua by the indigenous Maori, the island was named Mayor Island by Captain Cook, who first sighted it three days before Lord Mayor's Day in 1769.
The sides of the volcano rise fairly steeply from the sea, and the majority of its interior is a vast crater Hot springs abound, and there are two small crater lakes on the island, Green lake and Black Lake, which were formed by eruptions 36,000 and 6,000 ago.
The island is best known for its lava flows and domes, containing deposits of obsidian, a black volcanic glass created by the rapid cooling of silica-rich lava. The obsidian, Tuhua in Maori, was prized by the Maori for making cutting and scraping tools and pieces from the island have been found throughout New Zealand and the Kermadec Islands.
The waters around the island are renowned for game fishing, with marlin, mako sharks and swordfish being plentiful here. The island and the waters close to its shores are protected as a small marine reserve, but diving, snorkelling, sailing and swimming are all encouraged here. The old game-fishing centre on Sou 'East Bay is on a beautiful beach and the clear waters and rich variety of fish here make it the most popular destination for drivers.
There are several hiking tracks on the island, so visitors can explore the native bush and see the birdlife. Because it is protected the easiest way to get here is with a registered tour operator.
When to visit
October to May
How to reach
By Boat from Whangamata or Tauranga.
- The island offers great opportunities for off-shore activities, including big game fishing, diving and snorkelling to appreciate the rich marine life here, including swordfish, marlin and mako sharks.
- The hiking trails on the island allow a good view of the crater, with its lakes and hot springs.
You should know
Strict quarantine measures are in place to protect the wildlife around the island, so you must contact the caretaker before landing here.