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Quail Island (New Zealand) facts for kids

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Quail Island
Geography
Highest elevation 86 m (282 ft)
Administration
Demographics
Population nil

Quail Island (Ōtamahua in Māori, sometimes also known as Te Kawakawa) is a small uninhabited island within Lyttelton Harbour in the South Island of New Zealand, close to Christchurch. The island was given its European name by Captain Mein Smith who saw native quail here in 1842; though they were already extinct by 1875. 'Ōtamahua' has the meaning of a 'place where children collect sea eggs'. 'Te Kawakawa' refers to the pepper trees found on the island.

History

Apparently uninhabited by the New Zealand native peoples, it was still often visited to collect shellfish, flax, bird's eggs as well as stone for tools (from King Billy Island, an outcrop just off Quail Island). Europeans briefly farmed it in 1851, before it was turned into a quarantine station in 1875, and later into a small leper colony from 1907–1925, while being used as a hospital during the influenza epidemic of 1907.

Replicas of dog kennels (once used for training of the dogs used in Antarctic expeditions of the early 20th century) and a replica leprosy patient’s hut were built by students of Cathedral College, with the quarantine barracks also restored and moved to the beach front. Subantarctic explorations that used Quail Island were the Discovery Expedition (1901–04), Nimrod Expedition (1907–09), Terra Nova Expedition (1910–13), and the Byrd Antarctic Expedition (1928–30). The island was declared a recreation reserve in 1975, and has a number of safe swimming beaches, as well as some day facilities (toilets, day shelter). A ferry service is available to the island, and private watercraft may also access the island. A man called Ivon Skelton was buried on the island on 22 October 1923, and this is the island's only grave.

Ecological restoration

The Ōtamahua/Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust and the Department of Conservation are currently working to remove pests and re-vegetate the island, with the aim of eventually re-introducing native wildlife.

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