Rotoroa Island in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf opened to the public for the first time in over 100 years on Sunday 27 February 2011.
The island, which was used by The Salvation Army as an alcohol and drug addiction treatment centre, provided physical and spiritual care for over 12,000 admissions until its closure in 2005.
In 2008, Neal and Annette Plowman, who have long-admired the Army’s work, established a generous trust devoted to the redevelopment of Rotoroa as a visitor destination, ensuring its unique history as a place of recovery and renewal was respected and preserved. The Salvation Army is the sole beneficiary of that trust.
Trust member and island project manager John Gow says the Plowmans’ unique gift has provided New Zealand with access to a beautiful and fascinating island. ‘Rotoroa Island is a very special place. It brings together the unique history of The Salvation Army, the vision of a generous benefactor and the confidence of the Salvation Army in giving the Trust the opportunity to create what we call “An Island Apart”—a place people can visit for its beaches and bush walks, its history and its artworks.’
The Trust also aims to offer limited island accommodation and up to 10 lifestyle blocks for sale on a licence to occupy basis. Trustees include Commissioner Donald Bell, Major Bruce Vyle, Geoff Harley, Chris Liddell, Devon McLean, Barrie Brown and John Gow.
Visitors to Rotoroa will be able to explore the heart of the old treatment centre’s community complete with jail, chapel, school house and cemetery, a state-of-the-art exhibition centre, plus walking trails among some of the 450,000 native plants currently being re-introduced to the island.
Rotoroa is accessible by private boat or ferry. Ferries will travel to the island four times per week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Bookings are through 360 Discovery ferries
Funds from the island’s lease will support The Salvation Army’s work.