Kawau Island is situated in the Hauraki Gulf in the Rodney District, approximately 8.4 kilometres from Sandspit and at its closest point to the mainland is 1.5 kilometres from the Tawharanui Peninsula.

Kawau hasĀ a land area of just over 2000 ha (5200 acres), 90% of which is privately owned, and 10% is public land administered by the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Topography of Kawau

The topography of Kawau can be described as hilly to steep with some relatively large flat to gently sloping areas, both elevated and in valleys. High cliffs face the open sea to the east and for the most part are impassable with few safe landing places for vessels on that coast. Inlets and harbours formed by drowned valleys (as the land tilted downward to the west and as the sea level rose following the last Ice Age) penetrate the more sheltered western shoreline. There are two large sandy bays at the flanks of the western shoreline.The land is geologically tilted to the west, and this gives rise to the shape of the Island with the harbours formed by drowned valleys on the western side.

All of the main watercourses on the island flow generally to the west for the same reason. The contrasting curved eastern shoreline generally has high cliffs as the remnant landmass is slowly attacked in geological time (millions of years) by the open sea.

There are estuaries and intertidal zones in the harbours, and wetlands associated with some of the larger streams.The Island has a wide range of habitats for native flora and fauna.