Mabel Island

This marks the outer part of Picton Harbour and has a light on its southern end. There are rocks extending up to five meters from the high water mark from the southern point.

The rest of the shore is deep with no dangers. 


The island appears to have two possible Māori names associated with it, Motu Ngārara (Lizard Island) and Tukurehu (Floating Mist).1

It is of particular significance to the iwi (tribe) Te Ātiawa o Te Waka-a-Māui who are kaitiaki (guardians) of the island.2

The Pākehā (non-Māori) name for the island was given by Governor Thomas Gore-Brown, who visited Picton in 1860, in recognition of his eldest daughter.3

Governor Gore-Brown was also later responsible for the re-naming of Marlborough, Blenheim and Picton.

During the Nineteenth Century there were remains of a pā (fort) located on the island and it may have been used as a burial site.4

Following the arrival of Pākehā, the island was used for farming before it was designated a scenic reserve.5


Sketch of Picton Harbour and Mabel Island during the 1870s.

Welch, Joseph Sandell, 1841-1918: Picton Harbour from a sketch by Mr. J. C. Hoyte.
Courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. Ref: A-120-021. /records/22893652


Sketch of Picton Harbour with Mabel Island in the middle ground. Small dinghy in


1. H. A. H. Insull, Marlborough Place Names, (Wellington: A. H. & A. W. Reed, 1952) 48.

2. Te Ātiawa Trust, “Ātiawa o Te Waka-a-Māui Deed of Settlement signed today”, Scoop, accessed November 6, 2019, .

3. Julie Kennedy, Chronology of Picton and Queen Charlotte Sound, (Picton, Picton Historical Society, 2009) 16.

4. Insull, ‘Marlborough Place Names’, 48.

5. “Mabel Island Scenic Reserve”, New Zealand Gazetteer, accessed November 6, 2019, .

Shallow (<5m) | Deep (>10m)
Rocks/reef/sand bank warnings
There are rocks extending up to five meters from the HW mark from the southern point.