What is Tiritiri Matangi?
Tiritiri Matangi is a wildlife project established in 1980s thanks to the hard work of thousands of volunteers still working for the benefit of the island today. The island is 30 km east of central Auckland and there are great views of the city from near the bunk house and visitor centre on the island. Tiritiri Matangi was once farmland and now the 220 hectare island is 60% bush and 40% grassland. The Island is home to some of New Zealand’s most endangered bird species such as the Takahe which number only 250 in the world, the North Island Kokako, stitchbirds, Saddleback and kiwi which are seen only at night.
If you are like me and check tripadvisor then you will know the top rated attraction to visit in Auckland is Tiritiri Matangi in the Hauraki Gulf. The Island is around 5 miles from Whangaparoa Peninsula. The only way to get there if you do not have your own boat is by a ferry operated by 360 Degrees a subsidiary of Fullers. On our arrival in Auckland one of our first stop was the Viaduct Tourist Information Office in downtown Auckland. There also is a Department of Conservation (DOC) office where you can book Great Walks and an overnight stay on Tiritiri Matangi.
How do you book an overnight stay?
Another option is to book an overnight stay on the island through the DOC website. However, they seem to have a lot of problems with it as when I tried to book an overnight stay it was impossible to work. On the off-chance there was a place free I asked the DOC officer and there was a week later so I immediately booked it. The price to stay overnight is NZ$30 each in a bunk house which houses 15 people a night in three rooms. There are also volunteers at the bunk house who have their own room. After booking the overnight stay you need to immediately book your ferry ticket. There is a limit of 160 visitors each day on the island. The booking office is a few minutes down from the Tourism office. It cost us NZ$70 for a return ticket. Later we found a coupon that would have saved us 10% off the ticket in the A-Z Auckland book handed out by the tourism office.
You do have to fill out a biosecurity form on the DOC website for collection at arrival and be aware that any food must be in rodent free sealed boxes or in your pack. There are no fires on Tiritiri Matangi and the weather can cause ferry cancellations. The list of other things to do can be seen at the link above on book an overnight stay.
What do you bring?
We packed light. In the end we brought with us a couple of sleeping bags, towel, change of clothes, a good torch (imperative if you want to see kiwi at night), food for the dinner, breakfast and lunch as there is no food to be bought on the island. The bunk house has cutlery, plates, fridge and freezer for food, a gas barbecue in the courtyard, pillow and mattress on the bunks, hot showers, flush toilets and everything you would need for an overnight stay or longer. I wish we had stayed an extra night.
Staying on the Island
On arrival you are met by the ranger and volunteer guides. The ranger briefs you on the do’s and don’ts of visiting the island. He also transports your pack up to the bunk house and down again when you leave. This allows you the opportunity to do a guided walk with the guides, well worth doing. There are several tracks on the island and the most difficult bird to find was the North Island Kokako. We managed to find one a few hours before we left in one of their territories near the Kawerau track. The bunk house was in my view brilliant. We spent hours walking the many tracks of the island just looking and listening at the birds and at night we easily found kiwi as they rustle in the leaves looking for dinner. The Takahe were around the lighthouse and easy to find. The dawn chorus is not worth doing unless it is sunny as we found out on an overcast morning and no dawn chorus. The great thing about the island is at 3.30 you have it to yourself as the day visitors return on the 75 minute ferry ride back to Auckland.
I hope you get a chance to visit this wonderful bird paradise and enjoy the chorus of native birds.