Welcome to Tiritiri Matangi Island
This magical, 220-hectare, predator-free island (www.tiritirimatangi.org.nz) is home to the tuatara (a prehistoric lizard) and lots of endangered native birds, including the very rare and colourful takahe. Other birds that can be seen here include the bellbird, stitchbird, saddleback, whitehead, kakariki, kokako, little spotted kiwi, brown teal, New Zealand robin, fernbird and penguins; 78 different species have been sighted in total. The saddleback was once close to extinction, with just 150 left, but there are now up to 1000 on Tiritiri alone. To experience the dawn chorus in full flight, stay overnight at the DOC bunkhouse; book well ahead and ensure there's room on the ferry.
It's a good idea to book a guided walk ($5) with your ferry ticket; the guides know where all the really cool birds hang out.