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Arapaoa Island
Southern end of Arapawa Island.jpg
Southern end of Arapaoa Island
Geography
Location Marlborough Sounds
Area 75 km2 (29 sq mi)
Length 28 km (17.4 mi)
Width 4 km (2.5 mi)
Highest elevation 559.4 m (1,835.3 ft)
Highest point Narawhia
Administration
New Zealand
Demographics
Population 50

Arapaoa Island, formerly known as Arapawa Island, is a small island located in the Marlborough Sounds, at the north east tip of the South Island of New Zealand. The island has a land area of 75 km2 (29 square miles). Queen Charlotte Sound defines its western side, while to the south lies Tory Channel, which is on the sea route from Wellington in the North Island to Picton. Cook Strait's narrowest point is between Arapaoa Island's Perano Head and Cape Terawhiti in the North Island.

History

According to Māori oral tradition, the island was where the great navigator Kupe killed the octopus Te Wheke-a-Muturangi.

It was from a hill on Arapaoa Island in 1770 that Captain James Cook first saw the sea passage from the Pacific Ocean to the Tasman Sea, which was named Cook Strait. This discovery banished the fond notion of geographers that there existed a great southern continent, Terra Australis. A monument at Cook's Lookout was erected in 1970.

From the late 1820s until the mid-1960s, Arapaoa Island was a base for whaling in the Sounds. John Guard established a shore station at Te Awaiti in 1827, however initially could only salvage baleen until the station was equipped to process whale oil from 1830 onwards, targeting right whales. Later, the station at Perano Head on the east coast of the island was used to hunt humpback whales from 1911 to 1964 (see Whaling in New Zealand). The houses built by the Perano family are now operated as tourist accommodations.

In August 2014, the spelling of the island's name was officially altered from Arapawa to Arapaoa.

Conservation

Parts of the island have been heavily cleared of native vegetation in the past through burning and logging, A number of pine forests were planted on the island. Wilding pines, an invasive species in some parts of New Zealand, are being poisoned on the island to allow the regenerating native vegetation to grow. About 200 hectares (490 acres) at Ruaomoko Point on the south-eastern portion of the island will be killed by drilling holes into the trees and injecting poison.

Arapaoa Island is known for the breeds of pigs, sheep and goats found only on the island. These became established in the 19th century, but the origin of these breeds is uncertain, and a matter of some speculation. Common suggestions are that they are old English breeds introduced by the early whalers, or by Captain Cook or other early explorers. These breeds are now extinct in England, and the goats surviving in a sanctuary on the island are now also bred in other parts of New Zealand and in the northern hemisphere.

The small Brothers Islands, which lie off the northeast coast of Arapaoa Island, are a sanctuary for the rare Brothers Island tuatara.

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