The open wildlife sanctuary of Tiritiri Matangi Island is devoted to the protection and conservation of reintroduced threatened and endangered reptiles like the tuatara, and birds such as the flightless takahe. The island is tightly controlled to keep out predators that hunt fragile bird species like the nocturnal little spotted kiwi.
Providing habitat for about 80 species of birds, the island rings with varieties of birdsong rarely heard on the mainland. Choose a day trip from Auckland that includes a guided walk on the island. You’ll learn to identify the birds and their calls, such as the New Zealand robin and the saddleback. Then take a short walk to Hobbs Beach to take a swim and spy on blue penguins in their nesting boxes.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Tiritiri Matangi is a must-see for birders and wildlife enthusiasts; don’t forget binoculars.
- Keep Tiritiri Matangi pest-free by removing soil and seeds from footwear and gear, and following all biosecurity measures.
- There are no trash cans on the island; you must pack everything out.
- Public toilets and a gift shop are available at the visitor’s center.
- Fires, barbecues, and camping are not permitted. However, it is possible to book an overnight at the bunkhouse through the Department of Conservation (DOC).
- Though the trails are not wheelchair-accessible, the flat area around the visitor’s center is a great spot for those with mobility issues to birdwatch.
How to Get There
Tiritiri Matangi is located in the Hauraki Gulf, 18 miles (30 kilometers) northeast of Auckland. The island is reached by private boat or ferry, which runs from Auckland City ferry terminal and the Gulf Harbour Marina, Wednesday to Sunday and public holidays. During the peak holiday season (December 26 to mid-January) there is a daily ferry. Departures take place in the morning and return from the island in the afternoon.
When to Get There
Birdlife is active year-round, and each season has something different to offer visitors. Spring is best for early-morning birdsong, while late summer is ideal for observing fledglings. Kowhai trees flower in late August, and 1,000-year-old pohutukawas (aka New Zealand Christmas trees) bloom in December.
Hiking Trails on Tiritiri Matangi Island
The 2-mile (3-kilometer) Kawaura Track winds through coastal forest and can take up to 2.5 hours with a guide. The 1.3-mile (2-kilometer) Wattle Track leads to the oldest working lighthouse in New Zealand and may last up to 1.5 hours. Alternatively, birdwatchers can walk from the wharf to the trailheads to take a gentle stroll around island, including the East Coast Track.