The magnificent historic house and park-like gardens are open to visitors, and colourful peacocks still strut the lawns. Admire the many artefacts gleaned from the previous owner's travels through the Pacific and everyday objects of the Victoria era. Mansion House entrance fee is $4 and their phone no is 09 422 8882. Peaceful walking tracks lead through native forest to beaches, Maori Pa sites and old copper mine. Another walk takes you to a grove of large redwood trees. Mansion House also has a café & restaurant, offering diners a picturesque and comfortable environment for all to relax within. You can find out more about the history of Mansion House here, and more about the Café here.
copper mine & Smelting house
A manganese mine was established on the island in the 1840s; shortly after, copper was discovered by accident. Fascinating ruins of the underground seashore copper mine, a pumping engine house and a small smelter remain today. See the copper mine from the lookout at Lady’s Bay or the more active can relive history by following the Miners Track from the Mansion House through the bush and along the foreshore to the copper mine itself (fun for the kids). Charters boats can also take you to see the mine from the water.
Cafés & Restaurants
There are three places to eat out on Kawau Island all serving great coffee, food and wine selections. There is also a café at Sandspit, a short ferry ride from Kawau. See dining options here.
kawau island historic reserve
The Kawau Island Historic Reserve was created to protect Mansion House, Sir George Grey’s former home, and the gardens and landscape he created, together with sites and relics from the historic copper industry. The reserve is a popular destination for visitors arriving by ferry or pleasure craft. Mansion House and the extensive gardens surrounding it, were bought by the Government and became part of the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park in 1967.
Ladys Bay— 10 min
A short stroll to a sandy beach, accessible mid to low tide only, once a swimming spot for 'ladies only'. Follow the central path up Mansion House Valley and take the signposted track to Ladys Bay.
Mansion House to Ladys Bay, 10 mins one way.
Two House Bay — 15 Min
This bay once had two cottages, built during the 1860s for Sir George Grey’s estate manager and shepherd. One of the cottages remains today in modified form and is now the ranger’s residence.
Caution - this track is steep.
Mansion House to Two House Bay, 15 mins one way.
Ladys Bay/Momona Point — 20 min
A short walk one way, originally used by guests of Sir George Grey, beginning at Ladys Bay. The track leads to the end of a promontory with a good view of the mainland.
Ladys Bay to Momona Point, 20 mins one way.
Coppermine Lookout — 25 MIN
An easy stroll to the lookout, a cleared grassy area which provides good views of the coppermine enginehouse remains, and a panorama which takes in Beehive. Moturekareka, Motuketekete, Motuora and other Gulf islands.
Take the track from Mansion House to Ladys Bay and continue along the gradually climbing path to reach the Lookout. The track passes through mature pine trees established during Sir George Grey's ownership of the island. The Redwood Track provides an alternative return to Mansion House.
Mansion House to lookout, 25 min one way.
Schoolhouse Bay Road — 35 Min
A public wharf at Schoolhouse Bay provides an alternative access point to the historic reserve. Sir George Grey had a school built at Schoolhouse Bay for the children of his workers. The old schoolhouse, now much modified, can be seen from the wharf. It is privately owned and not open to the public. From the wharf, follow the road up the hill past private residences. Just beyond the houses is a short side track to a knoll with a small historic cemetery, the resting place of some early Kawau residents including copper miners and their families. Schoolhouse Bay Road continues to a junction near the Lookout, where there are several routes to choose from to return to Mansion House Bay.
Schoolhouse Bay to Lookout, 35 mins one way.
Redwood Track — 45 MIN
A shaded track through exotic pine forest and ferns, with a notable large redwood tree planted by Grey in 1864. Take the track to Two House Bay and then head inland up the Redwood Track. Brick house foundations near the top of the track mark the dairy site and remains of two cottages associated with coppermining on the island in the 1840s and 1850s. Mansion House to Lookout via Redwood Track, 45 mins one way.
Dispute Cove Track to Coppermine — 50 MIN
This track follows the original route used by miners to get to work. There were once miners’ cottages along the route as well as a village and school at Dispute Cove. Walk to the Lookout via Ladys Bay and follow the Dispute Cove Track to Dispute Cove. Part of the track’s coastal section is impassable during very high tides. An alternative inland route back to the Lookout follows an old coach road built for Sir George Grey.
Mansion House to Coppermine: via Dispute Cove Track, 50 mins one way; via inland route, 60 mins one way.
Round Trip to Coppermine — 2 hrs return
Take the track from Mansion House Valley to Ladys Bay and continue on to the Coppermine via the Lookout and Dispute Cove Track. Return to the Lookout via Coach Road, then take the Redwood Track to Two House Bay. Follow the track from Two House Bay back to Mansion House Bay. Caution - sections of this track are steep.
Mansion House - Ladys Bay - Lookout - Dispute Cove Track - Coppermine - Redwood Track - Two House Bay - Mansion House, 2 - 2.5 hrs return.
See this DOC brochure for a printable map, track information and extra details:
Being an island, there is an abundance of water activity opportunities. Boating, fishing, swimming and kayaking are all very popular.
Royal Mail Run CruisE
This is the largest mail run by water in the Southern Hemisphere, and is a delightfully relaxing way for people of all ages to learn about the history and admire the natural beauty of Kawau Island.
Cruise the beautiful bays, gaining a rare glimpse into life on an island that has no roads. See historic landmarks, watch bird life while your experienced and informative skipper guides you around over 75 different wharfs delivering freight and mail to the island residents – don’t forget to keep a watch out for penguins & dolphins! This is a once in a lifetime cruise, and is definitely one not to be missed!
Departs Sandspit daily at 10.30am
Phone 09 425 8006 or 0800 111 616
Mansion House Cruise
The perfect day trip with so many choices you’ll want to do it over & over again! Enjoy the Mansion House, copper mine, sub-tropical gardens, bush walks, beach and café.
Departs Sandspit daily at 10.30am (& 2.30pm during summer season)
Phone 09 425 8006 or 0800 111 616
Norma Jean Charters
Norma Jean Charters can offer you a half day or a full day to experience the sights and wonders of Kawau and it’s surrounding Islands.
Enjoy a scenic tour and an overview of Kawau’s history. Stop off at the Kawau Yacht Club for a delicious lunch, or take a bush walk and enjoy a picnic lunch at Mansion House with the Peacocks and Wekas.
Have fun kayaking around the old Copper Mine or the ruins of a half sunken boat in Shipwreck Bay. Or if it’s fishing you’re into – we will find the best spots. Also available are overnight charter and trips to Little Barrier and Tiritiri Matangi. The Norma Jean is DOC Approved.