One of the main reasons to visit Tiritiri Matangi is to see rare New Zealand wildlife. Our islands have no native mammals, apart from bats and dolphins. So, our birds have developed to fill all sorts of niches. In this picture, you can see a Hihi - or Stichbird. I had never seen one in real life before my trip to Tiri. I was also very lucky to see...more
Forests now cover 60% of the island, providing habitat to most of the bird species.Much of this forest is the result of extensive reforestation efforsts by volunteers some 20 yeears ago and is therefore still somewhat low and doesn't look completely natural.Still it is already dense enough, and walking the trails through it is not only a good way...more
Another very rare New Zealand endemic which has been reintroduced to Tiritiri, this shy, drab brown bird is resident and breeding at certain water-holes scattered on the island. It is usually seen resting under the vegetation at the water's edge. If you can't find any by yourself, the rangers and volunteers should know about their whereabouts.more
This species has been introduced to New Zealand from Australia, and why it has been allowed to remain on Tiritiri is a bit of a mystery to me - I guess it was judged to be harmless.In any case, while usually a shy species, this quail can sometimes be observed quite close-up on the roads of the island.more
These beautiful birds are now very rare on the main islands of New Zealand, but have fared better on off-shore islands with no predators. They still had to be reintroduced to Tiritiri, and were in fact the first birds to be released here. There are now a fair number of them on the island, but tend to be quite shy. They can be seen on forest edges,...more
Anther endemic that has done relatively well on the mainland too, this large pigeon, like the Tui has actually survived on Tiritiri without having to be reintroduced.Still, it is somewhat scarce and elusive on the island, and you will have to watch out for it!It is usually seen quietly sitting under the dense canopy.more
This endemic species is still found in good numbers in forests even on the main islands of New Zealand, but some birds from the North Island subspecies have been reintroduced to Tiritiri all the same. They may not look like much in their drab gray feathers, but are still fun to encounter, as they are among the boldest of birds, often actually...more
Another great endemic rarity, the Saddleback has also become extinct on the mainland, with the last native populations surviving on Hen Island off Northland, a few islets off Stewart Island. The birds on Tiritiri are descendants of the Hen Island birds, representing the north Island subspecies. There are now hundreds of them on the island, making...more
A relatively small but still quite colorful species easily seen in the forests throughout the island, the Stitchbird is another New Zealand endemic that has fared so badly in the past that it has become extinct on the mainland, with the last population surviving on remote Little Barrier Island. From there some have been relocated to Tiritiri...more
Well, if you are keen on being able to say you've seen a takahe, make sure it was not a Pukeko! These much more widespread and common birds live in the same, grassland habitat on Tiritiri Matangi, but are usually much more shy and less approachable. Watch out for the differences: this is a much more slender, more brightly coloured bird than the...more
One of the few endemic species that continues to fare well in New Zealand is the Tui.It also happens to be one of my personal favourites!It is among the easiest endemics to see on the mainland and fairly easy to see on Tiritiri, too.It is one of the species that has always survived here and didn't have to be translocated.They are found in the...more
This rare and beautiful bird is another New Zealand endemic. It still survives in a few remote forests of North Island, but seeing it there is quite a challange. A few pairs have been relocated to Tiritiri where they now breed and are much easier to see. Not really easy though, and some luck is needed. They are usually encountered in pairs in the...more
Just to the north of the jetty, a few boxes have been set up along the trail following the coast as shelters for Blue Penguins. Their cover can be lifted up to see if there are any birds in residence. While these are wild penguins in any sense of the word, the experience is hardly overly exciting.OTOH, if you stay overnight and walk the trails in...more
There is no restaurant on the island, and you can only buy soft drinks and perhaps snacks in the souvenir shop. You should bring food for the duration of your visit with you, and it should be in a rodent-safe container!
Those staying overnight will have to cook for yourselves in the Bunkhouse which has a fully-equipped kitchen.
Unless you have your own boat or are ready to hire one, the only way to reach Tiritiri Matangi is by the Kawau Kat hydrofoil service that leaves Auckland for the island via Gulf Harbour daily in high season, or five times weely in low season.
Fares are under 60 NZD RT, with discounts for students, backpackers, seniors and children.
There is a small surcharge for those who plan to stay overnight, therefore return on a different day. If you belong to the latter category, the company will check if you have booked accomodation before selling you a ticket.
While it is advised that you book in advance, in much of the year, away from public holidays and weekends, you could actually just show up on the morning of departure and get your ticket.
There is a good souvenir shop near the lighthouse.
It sells an excellent range of books about New Zealand's nature, including the best field guides. There are also more usual souvenirs like postcards, toys and handpainted ceramics featuring the island's birdlife. Prices are reasonable and profits go towards conservation, so do spend your money there!
As nature, particularly birds are the main attraction here, anyone with an interest in them will want to have a guide to identify what is encountered.
Many good guides are sold in the souvenir shop, so have a look through them.
Of course, you may already want to have one in hand when you arrive.
If thinking of ordering one online, for birds (the main attraction) "The Hand Guide to the Birds of New Zealand" is the best bet for field use.
Tiritiri is not all about birds!To me, perhaps the main highlight here was seeing the tuataras, New Zealand's most unique reptiles in their natural environment.These are very ancient reptiles, often called the closest living relatives of dinosaurs.Like many of the rarer endemic birds, they have only survived on predator-free off-shore islands. The...more
The real prize among Tiritiri's birds is the one day-trippers almost never see.Like all kiwis, this species is nocturnal and therefore to see it you will have to stay overnight, go looking for it with a torch - and be lucky!On my first night on the island we saw none, also none on the third, while on the second night we saw four!Of all the kiwi...more
While most peope come here for the nature, I was surprised to see that the island's beaches actually attract some beach-lovers, mostly arriving by private boats.While it would be a real pity to see ONLY the beaches here, actually they are not bad either.If you are staying for a few days and the weather is fine, a swim is not a bad idea at all, and...more
Surprise, surprise!Birdwatching is the most popular activitiy here.And if you are new to it, you will be pleased to hear that you could hardly have it easier.Birds are everywhere, and most species are pretty tame, too.The trail up to the lighthouse leads through good forest and is an excellent place to start.There are several feeding-stations and...more
This is one thing no visitor can avoid, as walking trails are the only way to get around much of the island. No reason to worry though: the island is small, the trails are well developed and clearly marked, and the walking is not strenous. Trails on the western side (where most visitors arrive) are busier, if you prefer a longer hike away from most...more
Visitors arriving by the Kawau Kat will receive a short briefing on arrival, and be offered the option to join a dirt cheap guided walk for just 5 NZD.
Those poking around on their own will find informative interpretation boards and trail-maps along the tracks in the western part of Tiritiri.
For more detailed information on the island, visit its website: