Quail Island
Quail Island
4.5
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Duration: 2-3 hours
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4.5
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Matilda C
Christchurch, New Zealand36 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2022 • Couples
We visited on a cloudy day with a strong cold easterly wind and it sucked! The island is quite exposed to the wind.
The walk said it would take 2.5 hours. We are not fast walkers but completed it in half the time, and then had about 4 hours to kill in the cold until the return boat.
I’m certain it would’ve been a much more enjoyable day if it wasn’t windy and cloudy. In fact we would like to go back in summer and try out the campground that sits in front of a pretty beach.
My one peice of advice would just be to pick your day and make sure it’s good weather!
Written June 8, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Eugene S
14 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
10:20am the Black Cat cruises ferry left for Quail Island and arrived about 10 minutes later. The staff on the ferry were friendly and handed out free maps of the island and little activity books and pencils for the kids.

On arrival, we took on the 2.5 hour walk, which my 6/9/11 year olds handled with ease, probably because there was a lot to see and the scenery was spectacular.

After the walk, we stopped at the Swimmers Beach and had lunch, played cricket and frisbee while Mum sunbathed and when we looked again, it was time to head back to the Jetty for our 3:30pm pickup.

What made the day worth it was the weather, the updated and clean toilets at the beach and the quiet surroundings. Well worth a trip out for the day.
Written November 11, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

SkyeWanderer777
Christchurch, New Zealand95 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2012 • Family
What a gorgeous day out! The island boasts remarkable views, especially from the viewing point that magically appears in the middle of the island. I say "magically appears" because there is no sign leading you to it or indicating that you are at the highest point in the island where you can enjoy the most amazing 360 degree panoramic view of pacific blue encircling the island.

The BEST place to begin your two hour trek around the island is from the FRONT of the Heritage Centre (Visitors' Centre). We didn't know that and we took the path behind the Heritage Centre (where the bathrooms are) and got completely lost. We trudged for hours trying to find the eight shipwrecks. We finally found them after we retraced our steps to the Heritage Centre and took the trail from the front of the house. The biggest PLUS about getting lost was that we stumbled upon the highest point in the island and marveled at the spectacular view! The biggest PLUS about following the trail from the Heritage Centre starting point is that we saw the shipwrecks!

The place is poorly signposted so it is ever so easy to get lost and wander off even if you have a map!!! (And all three of us had maps!!!) It was very tiring because it was a hot day, and not having any signposts tell you where you were heading or what you were en route to finding/discovering was terribly frustrating! You just carry on not knowing if you are on the right track to wherever and wondering if the other set of tracks at the crossroads was the one you should have taken.

Having said that, getting lost has its benefits. We found a bench facing King Billy Island and the forested island beyond it and we sat and drank it all in. It was heaven. What a view!

Most of the sights around the island are replicas of the originals (like the leper house and the dog kennels). Otherwise, there are just empty spaces with signs like "The Ward's Homestead was here." So the MOST interesting sight was obviously the eight shipwrecks. Plus stumbling upon a couple of quails, totally unexpectedly! We walked stealthily (and delightedly) behind them so as not to spook them, until they disappeared into the bushes. :-)

There are no shops, so you have to bring your own food and water. But only bring what you feel comfortable carrying because it is wearisome to lug around a heavy backpack and climb hills in the heat of the sun. Wear sturdy hiking boots and bring togs if you wish to swim. A windbreaker will also come in handy. Although it was warm in Christchurch, the wind on the ferry going to Quail Island as well as the fierce wind on the island itself made it necessary to have a windbreaker. While waiting on the jetty for the ferry to come and collect us for the return to Christchurch, the wind was relentless. If you don't like the wind, wait near the viewing deck by the jetty. The rocks offer some protection. Out on the jetty, your hat will be snatched by the wind and your teeth will chatter! :-) Two vessels come to collect passengers if there are too many to go on one of the Black Cat Cruise boats.

It was amazing to see that many people waiting to board! Tramping around the island, you often feel alone. It can be a lovely meditative experience. So, realizing that all those people were there, too, was something of a surprise!

On a hot day, lather up generously with sunscreen. Hubby failed to use any and came away looking like a lobster! The only part of me that I forgot to apply sunscreen on turned beet red.

We had a great time on the island, despite getting lost. Enjoyed a great game of frisbee and a nice picnic. Then, we stopped in at Lyttelton for ice creams (they serve very generous ones at the London Street Dairy) and then enjoyed the music at Port Hole, the shipping container bar at Lyttelton, where Doc Sanchez was playing Latin guitar.

What a great day!! :-)

N.B. I discovered this website after our visit and it is worth reading the info. I wish we'd known about it prior to visiting the island: http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/canterbury/christchurch-and-banks-peninsula/otamahua-quail-island-tracks/
Written December 2, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Carolyn G
Christchurch, New Zealand52 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2012 • Family
Great trip whether a family or other. Not great for pushing buggies but if you are fit and don't mind pushing these up hill you will be fine. A short boat trip catching the boat from Lyttelton Harbour about 10 minutes, not to pricey. You can spend a day exploring the ship wrecks, relaxing at the beach or just walking. The walk would be good on a calm day and not too windy. About 2.5 hour walk plus depending how often you stop.
Written August 5, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Shazster
Christchurch, New Zealand209 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2012 • Solo
Time travel isn’t only possible in novels and science fiction. The short ferry trip to Quail Island in Lyttelton Harbour is much like being transported into another world - one infused with peace and tranquility, and steeped in history.

Quail Island, also known as Otamahua (the place where children gather eggs), is an 81-hectare inner-harbour island and recreational reserve - and the perfect day trip destination for nature lovers, history buffs, or those simply wanting to escape the city stress.

Disembarking mid-morning on the jetty, after a 10-minute ride on the Black Cat ferry, island exploration or decadent relaxation is your next port of call until the ferry returns at 3.30 p.m. to ship you back to reality on the mainland.

Visitors can head up the path and keep left for a 10 minute stroll to picnic on the white sands of secluded beaches, and paddle in the shallow and protected waters of Whakamura or Swimmer’s Beach.

Alternatively, keep to the right and amble through pines, past the pillar-red old stables and relocated lighthouse keeper’s hut and up to old farm house, now converted into visitors’ centre with information about the island and its intriguing history.

Relax in the gardens at the centre and listen to the birdsong or set off on a leisurely stroll on the 4,5km track around the perimeter of the island. It's a relatively easy two-hour round trip past volcanic cliffs, and the site of the Ward’s homestead, bothers who farmed the island for a brief period in 1851. Then meander through grasslands with 360-degree views of the volcanic crater rim that forms Lyttelton Harbour before passing above the ships graveyard where eight old vessels were scuppered and left out of sight to slowly disintegrate.

Ships graveyard on Quail IslandTurning another corner you'll find yourself above Walker’s beach, where the shell beds were once mined for poultry grit, with views of tiny King Billy Island and Moepuku peninsula, before reaching an old quarry site (used for ballast) and walking past the white picket-fenced grave of Ivon Skelton - the only leper to die on the island.

A short descent takes you to the terraced site of the former leper colony above Skier’s Beach. From there you can walk to the replica dog kennels - the island was also a former animal quarantine station used for Antarctic expeditions - or enjoy the beaches and visit the old human quarantine barracks or historic stock jetty.

A shorter one-hour walk from the visitor’s centre cuts across the centre of the island to the highest point at 86m before joining the perimeter track above Walker’s Beach. Sections on this route have been extensively replanted with indigenous trees, shrubs and grasses as part of the restoration of the island undertaken by the Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust in conjunction with the Department of Conservation (DoC).

The indigenous quail, after which the island is named, are extinct but you might spot introduced Californian quail. With DoC and Trust volunteers having eliminated a number of introduced pests, Quail Island is now a safe haven for several birds and insects, including tree weta, the little blue penguin, bellbird, several variety of shag, silver eye, fantail, kingfisher and numerous other species.

Note ferry currently only runs during the summer months. Bring a picnic lunch (no food for sale) and take any rubbish back home with you.
Written April 8, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Rhonda B
Rhonda B
Queenstown, New Zealand1,462 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Quail Island is in the middle of Lyttleton Harbour, and has a lot of history.

To get there you have to go by a 15 min ferry trip from Lyttleton, It takes 2 hours to walk around, (non stop) but there is a lot to see on the way, so you can either do a half day or take a picnic and stay a full day.
You get given a map that has all the points of interest along the way, some are - shipwrecks, volcanic cliffs, old quarries, lepers grave (it was the 1st leper colony in NZ) and the kennels where Robert Scott had his dogs trained & quarantined before going to Antarctic.
There is also a visitors centre that has a lot of information and displays.

There is also a great swimming beach on the island too.

It is an easy walk, and it's a very open, with not much shade. But still take something warm to wear, as there can be a cool seabreeze at times. Take a water bottle with you too. (there are no shops!)
Written March 17, 2007
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Sue H
Newbury, UK145 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2017 • Couples
The ferry from Lyttelton is quite expensive at $30 per adult return but definitely worth it. There are only 2 ferries a day so check your timings. It is a wonderful place to visit, so quiet but so much to see as you walk round the Island with a map provided on the ferry plus the many signs giving information on the places of interest. I would recommend walking round the Island and then enjoy a picnic on the beach and relaxing until the return ferry. It is not a strenuous walk and and it is very well marked, trainers or similar might be useful but not walking boots, etc. There are a couple of beaches and several toilets and fresh water taps, also a barbecue area and plenty of shade to get out of the sun if it gets too hot. The water is shallow and safe for swimming, boat lanes are clearly marked. Just a really lovely day out for seniors, families, children, everyone.
Written December 16, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

daer1
Christchurch, New Zealand55 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2015 • Friends
Sitting in the middle of Lyttelton Harbour this island boasts a lot of history. In the 19th century it was used as a leper colony, the inhabitants being responsible for road construction etc. It was later used to house Captain Robert Falcon Scott's huskies before he set off for the South Pole. On my last visit the remnants of the husky kennels were still there. The island now is used for farming and contains a cottage. Lovely sheltered beach on the south shore with barracks on a grassed area - great for picnics. But only accessable by boat.
Written September 7, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Raylenemc
Christchurch, New Zealand20 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2014 • Friends
If you enjoy learning a little of the history of the ice explorers, then visit Quail Island. Great for a day trip on the ferry from Lyttelton - don't forget to take your own water, snacks and/or lunch. A short walk (under an hour) takes you around the island, ship wreck with fabulous views of the banks peninsula. There's snippets of info to read about the lepers who lived there, so is a great way to spend for an interesting and relaxing day.
Written September 23, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Michael H
New Zealand117 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2014 • Friends
We had a great days walking and finding out about early history. The tracks were mowed and relatively easy. There are two loo's one at swimmers beach and the other at the visitor centre.
It's a pity you can't take bike as it would great fun.On a hot day the beach would be great and with gas a BBQ it is good for picnic's. Lots of flat mowed areas to sit on at the beach. the cost is good,$25.00 return and no discount for pensioner, 10.20am departure (12.30 return summer) and 3.30 the rest of year. and only a 10 minute trip.
Written January 8, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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