On behalf of the Crown, Toitū Te Whenua is leading a programme of work to establish a reserve at Watts Peninsula. This is a culturally and historically significant area located near the entrance to Wellington Harbour.

Map of Watts Peninsula, showing the location of the future reserve and land to be disposed of.
The red area in this map illustrates the location of the future reserve at Watts Peninsula. Toitū Te Whenua is also responsible for disposing of the neighbouring area of Crown land – shaded green.

The 72ha reserve is being established at the northern tip of Te Motu Kairangi (Miramar Peninsula), preserving and regenerating the space for future generations to enjoy. It will be protected as a distinctive national destination with cultural and recreational potential.

Toitū Te Whenua is responsible for improving the area’s safety before it is transferred to the Department of Conservation (DOC) who will develop the reserve. Public access to the future reserve area is not formally authorised while our preparation work is underway.

Find out more about our current work at the Watts Peninsula site

The future reserve is next to the former Wellington (Mt Crawford) Prison and an area of former New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) land. 

Establishing a reserve at Watts Peninsula

Aerial photo of Te Motu Kairangi (Miramar Peninsula) covered in trees, with the former Mt Crawford Prison at its summit and Wellington Harbour below.
An aerial shot of Te Motu Kairangi (Miramar Peninsula) with the future Watts Peninsula reserve area in the foreground.


  • 2000: The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) determines that their landholding on Te Motu Kairangi is no longer required for defence purposes. The Ministry for Culture and Heritage leads planning to create a reserve, reflecting the area’s historical and cultural significance to the Wellington region.

  • 2011: Cabinet agrees that Watts Peninsula should be protected, preserved and developed as a distinctive national destination.

  • September 2016: The Ministers for Land Information, Culture and Heritage, Conservation, Defence and Finance, and the Attorney-General meet to discuss progress on establishing the reserve and ask Toitū Te Whenua to explore taking over management of Watts Peninsula.

  • November 2016: Cabinet transfers Watts Peninsula from NZDF to Toitū Te Whenua and invites us to report back on the resources required to declare Watts Peninsula a reserve under the Reserves Act 1977.

  • 2017: Cabinet directs Toitū Te Whenua to lead this work.

  • 2019: Budget funding was allocated for work including site maintenance and improving safety before the reserve land is transferred to DOC. When funding was allocated, LINZ began scoping large-scale cultural and heritage site assessments to inform future decisions.

  • 2020: Site hazard assessments were undertaken (refer to attachments at base of this page).

  • 2021: Toitū Te Whenua completed significant procurement for site safety works and maintenance while the reserve is being developed.

  • 2022: Read the latest on our Watts Peninsula hazard reduction work

Te Motu Kairangi sits within the rohe of local iwi Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika (Taranaki Whānui), represented by their post-settlement governance entity Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust. The Crown (Toitū Te Whenua, DOC and Te Arawhiti) is working in partnership with the Trust regarding the future reserve.

See the attachments below for links to Cabinet papers and other project-related reports.

Disposal of surplus land

Next to Watts Peninsula is an area of Crown land that we are managing and disposing of – this is shown in green on the map above. It’s composed of Department of Corrections land at Mount Crawford and a 3ha neighbouring area of former New Zealand Defence Force land, both of which have been declared surplus to requirements.

These pieces of land are currently being considered for a public work by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.

Read more about the Crown Property disposal process

Last Updated: 17 March 2022