New hut on Otamahua/Quail Island opens for public use today

Visitors to Ōtamahua/Quail Island in Te Whakaraupõ­/Lyttelton Harbour will now be able to stay overnight after Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage today opened the new Ōtamahua Hut.

The hut has been transformed from an historic caretaker’s cottage into a comfortable 12-bunk tramping hut on the 81 hectare pest-free island, which is managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Ōtamahua Hut is a fantastic new asset that will for the first time enable people to stay overnight on the island, just a 10-minute ferry ride from Lyttelton,” said Eugenie Sage.

“DOC’s aim is to get more Christchurch families and especially children, out to enjoy the island and experience staying in a DOC hut.”

“Ōtamahua/Quail Island has a fascinating history. Over the last 20 years the Ōtamahua/Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust has focused on pest eradication and extensive replantings and restoration work which have enhanced the island’s natural environment. It is a great place to visit.”

Eugenie Sage said the restoration of the cottage and its conversion to a bookable hut, had taken considerable work by DOC staff, and had been made possible with support from several organisations including a trust set up to honour former Green Party co-leader Rod Donald.

“I thank the Rod Donald Trust and Ōtamahua/Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust for their generous support and donations to the redevelopment of the hut.”

The Rod Donald Trust gave $28,000 towards the hut and the Ōtamahua/Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust donated architectural services for the redesign work. Outdoor clothing and equipment company, Macpac, provided mattresses for the hut.

The cottage was built in about 1910, largely by prisoners from the Lyttelton Jail, and was used as a caretaker’s cottage until the early 1980s. It was also used as an information centre with the information panels now relocated to the Immigrant Barracks at Whakamaru/Swimmers Beach.

Ōtamahua/Quail Island was used by Māori as a base for mahinga kai or food gathering and farmed from the 1850s before it became a recreation reserve in the 1970s. The island was used as a quarantine station for animals and people and was the site of New Zealand’s only leprosy quarantine colony.  Remnants and replicas from the island’s past can be seen from the walking tracks around the island.

Ōtamahua Hut is available to the public from Monday 5 November and bookings can be made through the DOC website. 

Fees to stay in the hut are $15 for an adult and $7.50 for a youth (11-17 years).  Children (up to 10 years) are free.