Day 225 on the Road
New Zealand’s Quarantine and Leprosy Island
That’s right, we’ve found one of the weirdest islands in New Zealand. If you like this Quail Island video and want to see more 365 Days: 365 Activities in New Zealand then head on over to our epic YouTube Channel!
So today we are going to the most unusual and weird island I think there is in New Zealand.
Before we get started on Quail Island let me catch you up on everything that has happened today. First it was Laura’s birthday so I did hide her present into a puzzle box that took her over an hour to open. It was hilarious. Then we made our way to Christchurch to shop for a brand new campervan. We decided to downgrade so we went for something much smaller that is an 8-seater car. Once we decided on it we thoroughly checked it and decided to purchase it and with that we went to Quail Island before making our way back to to the little town of Akaroa.
First things first we need to transfer all the stuff from the campervan into this car. And we are downsizing quite a bit. Have a look.
As Laura said, it was a bit of a tetris game to fit everything in our gigantic 3.5 tonne campervan into this very small car. But we succeeded to fit everything and made our way back toward Akaroa where we are now staying in a farm. We took the time to help a little bit our hosts with some farm chores just to say thank you for hosting us then we head to the restaurant for Laura’s birthday.
Obviously nothing comes easy so I went for some tricky candles which were lighting themselves back up every single time but the really yummy chocolate cake made up for my cheekiness. But now let’s talk about Quail Island.
And yeah this is where we’re trying to find our boat to go to Quail Island because this is where we’re going today.
We’re joining Black Cat Cruises for a quick ferry trip from the Lyttelton Harbour in Christchurch over to Quail Island, and island that is famous for originally being used as a quarantine station as well as a leprosy colony.
Indeed, it is as weird as it sounds and it only takes 10 to 15 minutes on the ferry to get over to Quail Island where we arrive at the jetty and are ready to start exploring on the many hiking tracks around the island. Although it is Canterbury’s largest island it can be explored in a whole day.
the first attraction that we’re checking out is some old farming remains from the Ward Brothers who settled here to farm for about two months before they tragically died at sea and this is the first story that we find out about on Quail Island that makes us think that this island is cursed.
Basically the story goes that pretty much anyone that has anything to do with this whole island died tragically really soon after landing on the island so I don’t really know why we’re here. but as soon as we start seeing the millions of native birds surrounding us we are reminded of why Quail Island is so much worth visiting there is a ton of wildlife right here and almost no one comes here so it’s super easy to access and they are not scared of us it’s awesome.
Like many New Zealand island, pest trapping is much more effective right here because it’s such an isolated area so getting rid of pests is so much easier than on the mainland and it makes for a thriving native bird wildlife.
However the bird that the island is named after, Quail Island, refers to the native quail of New Zealand which is unfortunately extinct now.
It’s the curse.
Nevertheless, there’s a lot of wildlife viewing opportunities on Quail Island today among all the fantails wood pigeons and the Californian quails that we’ve seen there’s all these swallows which are flying back and forth across the walking tracks. After getting lots of entertainment from the birds we are continuing on this walk around Quail island.
Quail island has a vast network of walking tracks but we’re not really following any particular track we’re just seeing where our feet take us and the next place they do take us is this human quarantine area where finding a trap door on the floor gets our imagination running.
Are you Ok? That is creepy as.
I really don’t know why we are trying to open this creepy quarantine bunker. Let’s leave it alone and move onto the lepers house.
We are in a replica of a lepers cottage. I never thought I would be stood in one of these. I never really thought these existed. To be fair it’s not a bad place to be a leper. I mean leper or not, I don’t mind Quail Island.
While Laura is dreaming of the idealistic time of being a leper on Quail Island she is quickly reminded of the harsh reality of the real life of a leper at the cemetery.
But we’re gonna leave that for another day and move onto our lunch break. We are finding ourselves an awesome secluded beach where we’re gonna be able to relax and take a bit of a nap just to pass some time before heading to the rest of our little track.
The rest of the track is going to take us alongside the waters of the Lyttelton Harbour. We are making our way between the cliff and the water as far as the quarantine immigration barracks those are massive houses that were built right here to hold the people during their immigration process and the last one remaining has been turned into a museum with heaps of information on both the island, it’s wildlife, it’s human history and also the creepy stuff about all the quarantine stuff that has happens here. Everything here is all creepy. I like it.
To wrap up our time in Quail Island we’re taking a pleasant stroll along the beaches thoughtfully names Skier’s Beach and Swimmer’s Beach.
If you’re not into all the history here then at least there’s some really nice swimming beaches here. The water is warm it’s shallow and the beaches themselves are absolutely stunning.
It’s a short walk along the coastline and then through some exotic pine forest looping back to the jetty where we started trip on Quail Island. There are a couple of more features on this island that you can explore if you have the time which is are some shipwrecks unsurprisingly since everyone dies on this island.
While waiting for the ferry to arrive we reflect on how awesome this visit to Quail island has been in between the fascinating history, the vibrant wildlife and the stunning scenery, it’s really amazing that this is so accessible from Christchurch city centre.
For us now we’re heading back to Akaroa where we’re gonna be transferring our stuff from the campervan to the car then enjoying an awesome birthday dinner which you saw at the beginning of this episode.
So today we are going to leprosy island. Yeah. Ok.