Urupukapuka Island

Urupukapuka is the largest of the islands in the Bay of Islands, spanning a total of 520 acres. A designated recreational reserve, the island includes a coastline of 13.5km with a number of untouched sandy beaches.

Urupukapuka also boasts a rich archaeological landscape, with 66 significant sites including eight Māori pā (fortified villages), gardens and food storage pits. Walking trails criss-cross the island and take in these sites, with the longest walk totalling five hours.

Otehei Bay was the site of legendary author and fisher Zane Grey fishing camp. It now boasts a Project Islandsong information centre and the Explore Otehei Bar and Cafe. (Open most days during summer months).

There are no satisfactory anchorages on the North/Northeast shores, but plenty of options on the inside.  If you venture out to Waewaetorea Passage take care on Te Akeake Point which has rocks which extend out.  Water is available from the campground at Urupukapuka Bay, and there is a cafe/bar at Otehei Bay.

Walking tracks

The walk around Urupukupuka features great views.  The complete Urupukapuka Island Walk (5 hr) is designed in a clockwise direction, and may be joined at most of the larger bays.  This track generally follows the outer edge of the island passing various archaeological features. It goes through native and regenerating bush, along beaches and beside steep cliffs.

Recommended anchorages

  • #10 Urupukapuka Bay Beatuiful sandy beach. DOC campground ashore. Sheltered in NW to N winds. Check anchor well set as a lot of sea grass on the bottom.
  • #11 Otehei Bay Commercial wharf with a cafe at the head of the bay. The entrance is shallow. Excellent shelter in all conditions. Two Great Escape moorings for your use, (#938 &, #934).
  • #12 Oneura (Paradise) Bay.  Beautiful sandy beach, the name says it all. Great place to join the many walks on the island. Well sheltered from NW to SE winds. Good depth close inshore.
  • #13 Otaio Bay. Just to the North of Paradise, three good beaches. Excellent shelter from NW to SE. Shallow in close.
  • #17 Waewaetora Passage.  White sand, beautifully clear water. Great snorkelling around  the headlands.  Sheltered in Southerly conditions.

NB: the#numbers referenced refer to the marked cockpit charts on your boat. 

“You won’t want to miss exploring Urupukapuka.  The walks are fantastic and thanks to the wonderful work by Project Islandsong and others eradicating the pests, the birdlife is incredible.  Take some time to reconnect with nature. listen to the birdsong and spot reintroduced tieke (saddleback), toutouwai (North Island robin), pōpokatea (whitehead) pāteke (brown teal) and many other species.”  – Julie K


Urupukapuka Bay – avoid the rock in the middle of the beach when anchoring

Looking down on one of the Northern Shore cuttings – visable from the island walking track

Cable Bay – one of the less utilised anchorages and a wonderful place to drop anchor


  • If you are an experienced skipper you can bring your crew and bareboat charter with us
  • If you are new to sailing or skippering you can take one of our learn-to-sail then sail-yourself sailing adventures to gain the skills needed to safely drop anchor and enjoy an escape to this wonderful island.

Come sail with us, we love to share our passion for sailing in the beautiful Bay of Islands.

More information