• Frequently Asked Questions

How often do you go to Moutohorā / Whale Island?

Tours to Moutohorā are available, weather and demand permitting, on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

We do not run tours on Christmas Day.

How much does the tour to Moutohorā / Whale Island cost?

Adult: $149
​Child: $64 (15 years and under)

Moutohorā/Whale Island is a pest-free oasis that is home to a number of New Zealand’s rare and endangered plants, birds and reptiles. Keep an eye out for a threatened tūturiwhatu/New Zealand dotterel, boisterous tīeke/North Island saddleback, Tuatara, or kākāriki/red-crowned parakeet as you journey through the regenerated native bush before you dig yourself a soothing geothermal spring pool at Onepū Bay, Moutohorā’s secluded hot water beach.


Do we need to book in advance?

Yes. In summer it would pay to book at least one week in advance. In winter it should be no problem to book just a day or two in advance, as long as no large groups have booked up the boats. It is a good idea to book on your first available day so that if the trip is cancelled due to the weather conditions, you may (subject to availability) have the option of an alternate day.

Where does the boat leave from?

The boat departs from the Whakatāne ​Wharf, with check-in taking place beforehand at White Island Rendezvous, 15 The Strand East, Whakatāne (across the road from the boats).

What do we need to bring for the tour of Moutohorā / Whale Island?

To facilitate fast biosecurity checks, we kindly ask that aside from your essentials, that you please bring as little as possible.

  • A small towel to dry your feet, you will disembark right on to the shoreline from the boat
  • Warm jacket
  • Raincoat (if the weather looks showery)
  • Water bottle
  • Sun hat and sunscreen
  • Passengers who suffer from motion sickness are advised to take precautions before arriving.

Optional items:

  • Snack for morning tea/lunch. Due to the pest-free status of the island, no fresh fruits, vegetables or seeds are allowed. Food may be taken aboard the boat but must be in a sealed container or commercially packaged.
  • Camera
  • Towel and swimwear (in the warmer months)
What time does the tour of Moutohorā / Whale Island get back to Whakatāne?

From the time of departure our tour normally takes between 4 and 4.5 hours. The time varies as it depends on sea conditions and we will also spend time with any dolphins or other marine life we encounter.

Can anyone go on a tour to Moutohorā / Whale Island?

Our recommended minimum age is 8 years old and we will not allow children under the age of 6 years on our Moutohorā: Island Sanctuary tour. Please note that the decision to bring a child between the ages of 6 to 8 years on our tour is at the discretion of our Skipper on the day. Some travel conditions will not be suitable for the younger children and we will advise you if this is the case.

There is no maximum age limit.  However, a moderate level of fitness, agility and stability is required on this tour. The landing involves disembarking down a short ladder at the front of the boat directly on to the shore, whilst one aspect of the bushwalk includes a steady incline.

Can groups go on the tour of Moutohorā / Whale Island?

Yes, a tour of Moutohorā: Island Sanctuary​ is great for tramping groups, photographic groups, social groups etc.  It is an ideal destination for a whole day outing. We offer a 10% group discount for groups of 10 or more when booked directly with us. To qualify for the group discount bookings must be paid in one lump sum at least seven days prior to the tour date.

Special Educational rates are also available during low season for educational groups from schools and tertiary education providers, please contact us for more information if required.

Due to the protected pest-free status of the island, the maximum number of people we can take to Moutohorā in one day is 24 pax. Groups of 24 or more would need to be split across multiple days.

Moutohorā / Whale Island is pest-free, what steps are taken to protect this status?

Moutohorā is a pest-free island and it is critical that it stays this way for the protection of the endangered species that live there. Therefore, after check-in at our offices, each passenger will be required to undergo a bio-security check inside our bio-security caravan conveniently located on the wharf near where the boat departs.

All passengers need to ensure that their footwear and clothing are free from soil, insects (especially ants) and seeds. Any bags being taken aboard the boat will be emptied and repacked for a thorough “pest check”.

Before boarding the boat, all passengers will be required to dip the soles of their footwear into a water bath containing a disinfectant.  The disinfectant is used as a counter-measure for protecting Moutohorā’s precious eco-system from the threat of viral or bacterial infection.

Smoking is not permitted on Moutohorā or the Moutohorā Cat at any time and no cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vapes or lighters are allowed on the island/boat.

How big is the boat?

Moutohorā Cat is a 41-foot catamaran that has been part of our fleet since 2011. It has one toilet aboard.

Can I film with a drone while on the tour?

No. For the comfort and safety of other passengers and crew, the use of a drone is forbidden at all times. Use of a drone on Moutohorā is expressly forbidden by the Department of Conservation. The only exception to this rule is for pre-approved media organisations that have been granted a filming permit by the Department of Conservation. Media organisations please contact us to enquire.

What happens if we can’t land at the island?

If we are unable to land due to sea or weather conditions it means we didn’t forecast conditions accurately so a full refund is given.

What is your cancellation policy?

You may cancel without penalty up until 6pm on the day before your booked tour. Cancellations received prior to this time will receive a 100% refund. Cancellations after this time and ‘no shows’ will be charged a 100% cancellation fee.

We recommend that you hold a comprehensive travel insurance policy in case of any unexpected changes to your travel plans. Please note that this policy only applies to bookings made directly with us as third parties such as agents and online booking sites may have their own cancellation policies and fees that we have no control over.

How long will it take to receive the refund to my credit or debit card?

We use a payment gateway called Stripe for processing payments and refunds. Stripe advise that refunds can take between up to 10 days to appear on your statement. We charge in New Zealand dollars and due to fluctuations in currency exchange rates, the amount that you receive via refund may vary slightly from the amount originally charged if you use a card that is not in New Zealand currency.

Discover more about Ngati Awa Tourism

  • This is definitely a jewel in New Zealand's crown. Have spent my whole life exploring and adventuring in and around New Zealand and absolutely loved this trip on many levels. Don't miss it.

    Tom Mulholland - New Zealand

  • An excellent trip done with work colleagues. Luck gave us a perfect day and the chance to see a pod of dolphins on the trip out and back. It's a short boat ride and then a guided hike (not hard work at all) on the island. We had time to go for a swim on a hot-water beach (geothermal water vents providing the hot water). Beautiful views and a great day. Very friendly crew. A really great trip to do.

    Anon - Ohope, New Zealand

  • Thank you to the staff members who made our Waitangi day, Moutohora Island experience unforgettable. Great ride out and back, excellent commentary on board and on the Island. Fantastic weather and the sea was beautifully flat. What a magical place Moutohora Island is. I would recommend this trip to everyone. Also special thanks to the cook who made the yummy ginger biscuits for the ride back. Top marks you guys.

    Sandy Connelly - New Zealand

  • Had a great trip to the island and learnt a lot from our guides. Would highly recommend this trip to anyone visiting the area. A great way to spend half a day.

    Anon - New Zealand

  • Great trip. All the staff were knowledgeable and personable which made the trip even more enjoyable. From the dolphins and seals on the way out to picking the rock formations on the way back in it was an enjoyable four and a half hours on the water.

    Anon - Te Puke, New Zealand

  • My husband and I treated ourselves to the day tour of Moutohora Island for our wedding anniversary. What an amazing day it turned out to be. Our experience included seeing dolphins, seals, tuatara, saddleback birds, geckos and kiwi tracks in their natural settings... We had time to dig in the sand for hot water and swim in a bay. The crew were attentive and knowledgeable about the history, flora and fauna of the island. We had a wonderful day and highly recommend the Moutohora Island day tour.

    Anon - Whakatane, New Zealand


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