Auckland islands' access cut over broken DoC wharves

Two of Auckland's busiest islands are largely inaccessible this summer because the Department of Conservation (DoC)-owned wharves there are broken.

And those affected say it's due to neglect.

The idyllic Motuihe Island was just a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland - until its only wharf was closed last winter.

"To have it there but not be able to access it is really sad," says Sustainable Coastlines programmes manager Dan Downing.

The wharf is 40-years-old and DoC closed it after finding major structural problems.

There are kiwis and tuatara on the island but now conservation volunteers can't get there because ferries can't dock. Nobody can, unless they have a boat or can afford a water taxi at around $500 return.

Just a two-minute walk up from the island's main beach is a campsite. Just $8 a night, the Trust that manages the island says it was full last summer. This summer, with the wharf closed, it's pretty much empty.

And just 15 minutes away at Islington Bay, the wharf that provides access to Motutapu Island is closed too, also due to major structural problems.

It's hampering access for rangers and pest-controllers, and schools going to the popular outdoor education camp.

Ferry operators are also affected. The Red Boats charter boat company business is down 30 percent on last year.

"[There's been a] lack of maintenance," says director of the Red Boats, Andrew Somers.

"They haven't been looked after for some time and they've fallen into a state of disrepair."

The DoC says just eight of its 85 wharves across the country are closed but Motuihe and Islington Bay will be complex to fix so will be closed for an undetermined "extended period".

"They keep telling us they are going to fix it but no action seems to be being taken," Somers says.

"Access is everything. If you don't have access, if you can't be there in the moana and see the nature and our native fauna and flora then that connection won't grow," Downing adds.

For this summer at least these Auckland gems are cut off for almost everyone.