Get one of the limited tickets for a day at Tiritiri Matangi bird sanctuary, home to some of New Zealand’s most rare and endangered bird species. You’ll take a ferry across the Hauraki Gulf to the island, have an optional guided walk with a knowledgeable local guide, and enjoy free time to explore the walking trails, beach, Visitor Center and Hauraki Gulf’s oldest lighthouse.
Meet your ferry at downtown Auckland’s ferry terminal and relax on the beautiful 75-minute ride across the Hauraki Gulf to Tiritiri Matangi island. When you arrive at the island, you’ll receive an orientation from the ranger. You can then opt to take a 1.5 hour guided walk where you'll learn from your guide about the island's bird life, history and environmental restoration. The guided walk is recommended for an in-depth introduction to the island's birds, other wildlife, and history, or you can choose to spend the whole day exploring the island on your own. The predator-free island is home to many endangered native birds, including the colorful and rare takahe. Other birds that can be found here include the stitchbird, saddleback, bellbird, brown teal, whitehead, kakariki, kokako, New Zealand robin, fernbird and penguins. Once deforested, the island has been recovering since 1984, when hundreds of volunteers started planting 300,000 native trees. Since then, 12 endangered native bird species and 3 reptile species, including the rare tuatara (a prehistoric lizard), have been re-established in the sanctuary. Your guide will give you tips about the best spots to see specific animals and how to identify the birdcalls that you will hear. Your guide will finish the tour at the visitor center where you can browse through informative exhibits. Free tea and coffee is provided at the center and there are plenty of tables where you can eat your lunch (not sold on the island, please bring your own). Afterward, you can relax around the Visitor Center and check out the lighthouse, built circa 1864 and once the brightest lighthouse in the southern hemisphere. Or explore the walking trails that wind throughout the island, with varying choices for different fitness levels. In warmer months, head to Hobbs beach for a swim. You’ll have about five hours total on the island, with plenty of time to explore and see some of New Zealand's rarest animal life. Numbers of visitors are limited in order to protect the wildlife in the open sanctuary. Don't miss this chance to visit magical Tiritiri!