posted on Dec. 6, 2014

Tiritiri Matangi Island is an open sanctuary and a scientific reserve for birds and plants indigenous to New Zealand. My daughter and I visited the island during our stay in Auckland after we’d enjoyed walking on Routeburn Track on the South Island.

Luckily, we went there on a fine day, though the wind from the sea was relatively strong. We bought two tickets for 360 Discovery Cruises, which offered a round-trip cruise to Tiritiri Matnagi Island, 4 km off the coast of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, north of Auckland.


Cruise Ship

Cruise Ship

A friendly lady at the ticket counter asked,    ” Would you like a guided walk? Do you have some food for lunch?” We applied for a guided walk and told her we had our lunch ready. There is no shop selling food on the island. You can stay over there. There is overnight accommodation there, but you have to bring food with you.

At 9, the cruise ship left for Tiritiri Matangi Island.



From the deck, the view of Central Auckland with Sky Tower in the center  was spectacular. We enjoyed 80-minute cruise with a lot of local people and children and also tourists  from various countries like Brazil and Holland. Hot chocolate served at the cafeteria was very good and warmed me up.


Central Auckland view from the sea

Central Auckland view from the sea


Around several minutes past 10, Tiritiri Matangi Island came into sight. This 220-hectar island was originally covered by forests, but because of centuries of Maori occupation and the following European farming, the majority of the island was converted to grassland, and the original wildlife suffered severely.

Tiritiri Matangi Island

Tiritiri Matangi Island


In 1984, the comprehensive native replanting program started with the aims of accelerating the natural regeneration and providing a rich and varied habitat for native bird, reptile and insect species. In 1983, one year ahead of the program, a nursery was set up to grow plants from seed gathered on the island.By the completion of the program in 1994, over 280,000trees had been planted mainly by thousands of volunteers. Today, the island is managed by the Department of Conservation with the support of the community group, Supporters  of Tiritiri Matangi Inc.

We arrived at the island in a light rain, but it soon stopped. The volunteer guide for my daughter and me (one guide for only two of us!) was Jan, who was an elementary school teacher and volunteered for this activity on weekends. She was very lively, energetic and kind, and knew a lot about the plants and birds on this island. First, we walked to beautiful Hobbs Beach. Along the track near the beach, Jan showed us many bird holes. These holes were for birds which lived on fish they caught. There were also penguin boxes where penguin nested.

Wooden path

Wooden path

There were several tracks for observing Tiritiri Matangi’s birdlife in its natural environment and every track was well created and maintained. In some parts, there were wooden bridges, wooden paths and wooden stairs, which were all built by volunteers.

Here are some pictures I took there.

bellbirdBellbird (Korimako)(20 cm)

Bellbirds are honeyeaters and feed largely on nectar and berries.







kokakoKokako(38 cm)

Kokakos have a weak flight and sustained flapping is uncommon.

They move around in the canopy by running and hopping along branches. They mainly eat berries, insects and leaves.





NZ pigeon tiri tiriNew Zealand pigeon(Kereru)(51 cm)

NZ pigeons are herbivorous feeders, eating the fruits, berries, leaves and flowers of native trees.







silvereyeSilvereye (Tauhou)(12 cm)

Silvereyes have a distinctive white ring around the eye. They take a wide variety of food including handouts bread and fat. They create a finely worked cup-shaped nest.






stitchbird(hihi)Stitchbird(Hihi)(19 cm)

Stitchbirds are honeyeaters and they eat mainly nectar extracted with the brush-tipped tongue from the flowers of native plants. They are known to be polygynandrous breeding birds; two or more males and two or more females nest together.





tuiTui(30 cm; female smaller)

The tuft of white feathers at the throat is characteristic. Their swooping and undulating flight is also characteristic. Their fluid melodious songs have bell-like notes.







silver tree fernSilver Fern

Silver Fern is a species of medium-sized tree fern indigenous to New Zealand and the symbol of New Zealand.

It is said Maori hunters and warriors used the silver underside of the fern leaves to find the way home. When the fern leaves were bent over, they caught the moonlight and illuminated a path through the forest.




manuka honey flowerManuka Flower

Manuka honey is produced from the nectar of Manuka flowers.








At the southern end of the island, was located the lighthouse, which was fully automated and powered by solar panels. Next to it, were the visitor center and shop, where we had lunch savoring hot tea served by the volunteer staff for free. I bought a birdclock there. The clock is awesome! Every hour, each of the twelve different birds sings and tells me the time. Their chirps make me remember Tiritiri Matangi and heal my heart nicely.



Bird Clock

Bird Clock


Our ship left the island at 3:30 p.m. and got to Auckland around 4:50.

It was an unforgettable day for me. In addition, after coming back to Japan, I pay more attention to birds chirping around my area. I guess meeting birds on Tiritiri Matangi Island opened a door to this. Just now, a shining cuckoo chirped in the bird clock!



The Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi Inc. website : click here



Tiritiri Matangi Island

スクリーンショット 2014-12-06 11.47.40

Tiritiri Matangi Island













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