History of Mokoia Island

“The story of Mokoia Island, the green jewel of Te Takiwa Waiariki, the thermal region, is both romantic and turbulent”.

Steeped in tradition, Mokoia Island was once home to Tutanekai, a young Maori warrior.  It was to the shores of Mokoia Island, that Hinemoa (the daughter of a famous chief) defied her family and swam some 2 1/2 kilometres from the shores of Lake Rotorua. In the dead of night, guided only by the sound of Tutanekai’s flute, Hinemoa secretly swam to be with her one true love. So deep and rich is this story that Rotorua’s two main intersecting streets are named after these very famous lovers.

Beautiful, fertile and isolated Mokoia Island, for hundreds of years, has been occupied at some time by members of nearly all the sub-tribes around Lake Rotorua.  These tribes valued Mokoia both as a defensive site and as a unique kumara (sweet potato) plantation.  Because of this, the Island became a hotly contested land area. Mokoia Island was once a thriving village to Maori and missionaries with an estimated peak population of 2000 or more.

Today, with Mokoia Island Wai Ora Experiences you can see for yourself, what is now a wildlife and bird sanctuary. There are strict conservation efforts in place to preserve native flora, fauna, and birdlife for many future generations to cherish and enjoy. Dip your feet in the famous geothermal Hinemoa’s Pool (Waikimihia) and walk amongst Mokoia’s scenic beauty and learn about the magical myths and legends of Mokoia’s mysterious past.