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Tiritiri Matangi Island - BirdForum Opus

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New Zealand

Tiritiri Matangi Island Scientific Reserve sign, November 2000
Photo © by HelenB


Located in Hauraki Gulf, 4 km (2.5 miles) off the coast of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, north of Auckland, New Zealand, Tiritiri Matangi is an island sanctuary for New Zealand's native birds, which have been decimated by introduced mammalian predators in the past. It's about 1 hour by boat from Auckland waterfront.


The Seacat moored at Tiritiri Wharf, Tiritiri Matangi Island, New Zealand, November 2000
Photo © by HelenB

Notable Species

  • The South Island Takahe is completely flightless, large and dark blue with a great red bill. Some are very friendly and will walk right up to you.
  • Another unique bird and quite plentiful, is the nearly flightless North Island Saddleback, about the size of a Starling with little red wattles just behind the bill and red saddle-shaped marking on its back, hence its name.
  • A bird closely related to it, also nearly flightless is the North Island Kokako, about twice the size of the North Island Saddleback, grey with bluish wattles behind the bill, has a beautiful song which you may be lucky enough to hear.

Sadly, these and many other native NZ birds may become extinct if more effort is not made to preserve them, although there is far more hope for them now, than there was ten or twenty years ago.

Other birds living on Tiritiri Matangi are: The Tui, glossy black and energetic with the white tuft of feathers at its throat which earned it the old name of Parson Bird and Korimako, or New Zealand Bellbird, both honeyeaters, which are in their element when the pohutukawa trees flower red just before Christmas and both sweet singers which tend to bully smaller birds.

Leaving Tiritiri Matangi Island to return to Auckland, New Zealand, November 2000
Photo © by HelenB

The Hihi or Stitchbird is not as common. Also a honeyeater, it is a hole nester in the boles of trees and is extremely rare. The male is brightly coloured and makes a clicking noise, to which it owes its name.

The Pateke or Brown Teal, a small duck, is also extremely rare. You will also come across small flocks of Popokatea or Whitehead and Kakariki or Red-fronted Parakeet.

This about sums up the rarest and most unique birds on the island: birds which you are very unlikely to find anywhere else in NZ (except Tui and Bellbird) and which will give you a most enjoyable afternoon of bird watching.


Most of the birds described above are rare and are now breeding in protected conditions.

South Island Takahe in the captive breeding program on Tiritiri Matangi Island, New Zealand, November 2000
Photo © by HelenB


Birds you can see here include:

To do

Other Wildlife

All introduced mammalian predators have been eliminated from the island to give the native birds the protection they need to breed and recover their numbers. New Zealand's birds evolved in the absence of mammals which makes them particularly vulnerable to the feral cats, stoats, weasels, rats and mice which man brought to New Zealand.

There are several species of lizard, butterflies and other insects.

Site Information

History and Use

To do

Areas of Interest

Most of the island.

Access and Facilities

  • 360 Discovery provide the ferry service from Auckland. Mid January to December ~ Wednesday to Sunday and public holidays. December to mid January ~ every day. 75 minutes each way.
  • Only a limited number of people a day are allowed to visit, and strict measures are taken to ensure that no-one accidentally brings any rodent pests onshore in their baggage!
  • Guided tours, conducted by the volunteers from the Supporters of Tiritiri are available.
  • Souvenir shop with drinks, but you must bring your own food.

Contact Details

Tiritiri Matangi Island Field Centre
Phone: +64 9 476 0920
Address: Tiritiri Matangi Island, Hauraki Gulf
Postal Address: Private Bag 68908, Newton 1145, New Zealand

External Links

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Content and images originally posted by jimnz and HelenB