Don't miss an opportunity to visit Tiritiri Matangi island, where numbers of visitors are limited in order to protect the island’s wildlife. Ride a 75-minute ferry from Auckland across the Hauraki Gulf to Tiritiri Matangi, a predator-free open sanctuary that’s home to many endangered native birds found in New Zealand.
You’ll have about five hours total on the island. First, listen to a ranger discuss environmental recovery efforts since 1984, which have helped re-establish 12 endangered native bird species and 3 reptile species, including the rare tuatara (a prehistoric lizard).
Opt for an in-depth island tour to learn about resident birds and other wildlife. During the 1.5-hour walk, a guide teaches you to identify various birdcalls. Finish the tour at the visitor center where you can browse through informative exhibits while sipping complimentary tea and coffee.
Alternatively, spend your time exploring the island’s walking trails on your own. Perhaps stop by the lighthouse and, in warmer months, head to Hobbs beach for a swim before the ferry ride back to Auckland.