Tiritiri Matangi is affectionately known as “Tiri”. Hundreds of dedicated people have for worked for 3o years to replant the island with native trees, and prepare habitat for restablishing threatened bird species on the island.
It lies 30 kms from Auckland City, and off the tip of Whangaparoua Peninsula, and is accessed by a Ferry from Auckland or Gulf Harbour, leaving in the morning and returning late afternoon. It is an open sanctuary – a place where rare birds have been relocated, but which we are allowed to visit.
In the summer, you can enjoy the beaches and rocky coast, in the winter it remains a beautiful place to walk and explore. It is a jewel – well worth making the effort to visit.
My favourite time to visit is February – late summer when the water is warm and inviting. Everyone is welcomed to the Island with an brief introduction (and a check we have not brought unwanted guests such as mice to the Island). After that you can join a guided tour, or wander on your own. There are toilets and a small minimalist shop on the Island, so best to take all your own needs with you, remembering you will be there for most of the day.
The best thing is to stay on the Island – because then you will have be able to hear the Dawn Chorus as it used to be in New Zealand before pests and people. There is a simple bunkhouse – more information here
There are several tracks of various length that take you around the island, but I have always found the stretch when you first come off the boat, the most diverse in terms of birdlife, it is a delight to see Saddlebacks and Kokako and more than that, to hear them. On the more open grasslands you are liable to see a Takahe, there are penguin nests which you can look into dotted around the island.
At the top of the Island is the Lighthouse and some of the historic buildings left on the islands, and here is the only shop.
I had friends who were regularly involved in the early years planting native trees on the Island, with over 250,000 trees planted. It is a delight to see the bush re-emerging again from the grassland and scrub, and to remember all those who helped to make it happen. Once the pests and weeds are eradicated, the bush is able to regenerate – with birds spreading seeds, the natural cycle is once again recreating itself.
At the end of your walk, sit and enjoy the beach – or take a dip, you will have earned it!