Maori called the island Whakahau, meaning "windy place". Evidence of Maori occupation includes pa sites, pits, terracing, midden, obsidian (probably brought in from neighbouring Mayor Island) and other artefacts. With its ready access to fresh water, suitable agricultural areas, coastal resources, and excellent defensive positions, Slipper Island appears to have been permanently occupied.
The island was an important stop off for canoes traversing the east coast and a place of refuge during storms.
On Captain Cook's second voyage to New Zealand in 1728, he sailed past the island and the neighbouring Motuhoa (Shoe Island), and saw fit to name them both after the footwear he thought their silhouettes resembled. Though he personally never set foot on them, the names stuck.
Slipper Island continued to be a refuge from storms, including for the Tauranga Rugby Team aboard SS Fingal in 1907 on their way to a rugby match against the Mercury Bay team at Whitianga.
The first European owners started farming Slipper Island in the mid to late 1800s, and the island had a number of owners before subdivisions were made in the 2000's. Slipper Island is still a working sheep and cow farm, with a variety of animals such as chicken, horses, alpacas and peacocks.
Slipper Island is a truly stunning New Zealand treasure. Slipper Island Resort makes up 95 percent of the 224 hectare island, meaning our guests have access to nearly the entire island.
This means freedom to explore, safe, sheltered, sandy beaches for swimming, paddling or building sandcastles, wide expanses to hit or kick a ball around, space to fly a kite without powerlines, hills to climb up or mountain bike down—good old-fashioned kiwi fun!