Posted in Auckland Tamaki Makaurau

A Day Trip to Tiritiri Matangi Island Bird Sanctuary, Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau

My daughter gave us a trip to Tiritiri Matangi Island as a Christmas gift so we decided to make the trip on a hot sunny day in January. The island is a beautiful natural environment which gives you the opportunity to experience stunning views, native bush and wildlife up close and personal.

Location: Tiritiri Matangi

The first leg of the trip involved a 45 min boat ride on a Fullers Ferry from downtown Auckland at 9am to Gulf Harbour where more passengers came aboard.

Then the boat traveled for another 15 minutes before arriving at the wharf on Tiritiri Matangi Island. It was a bit choppy on the way over and I was a little seasick… but sitting outside was all good.

At 3.30pm the boat leaves for home so we had a good amount of time to explore.

Our first impression of the island was breathtaking… clear blue water, rocky and white sandy beaches, stunning sea views and dense bush.

In the bush it was bird song all the way and birds flitting everywhere. I particularly loved the tiny robins which were a total delight.


  • Toilets are available at the Tiritiri wharf, Hobbs Beach and Visitor Centre.
  • The Visitor Centre has a small souvenir shop and café serving filter coffee
  • Take a picnic to have up by the lighthouse or down on the beach and be prepared to take all rubbish back to the mainland with you.
  • Bunkhouse for overnight stays, see more here
Lighthouse and Basker walking along the grass track and into the bush- 1 min


Walking through the native bush is stunning and hugely enjoyable for anyone who loves nature. Then the bush leads out to a grass track and meanders eventually to a gorgeous coastline… all experienced with the continuous background sound track of bird song.

  • Wattle Track (wharf to lighthouse): 40 min one way. Following this track will give you the best chance of seeing birdlife.
  • Hobbs Beach Track (wharf to Hobbs Beach): 10 mins one way. Walk along the track following the beach for a picnic and swim. Hobbs beach is a good place to see shore birds.
  • Kawerau Track (north end of Hobbs Beach to Ridge Road): 30-40 mins one way. A longer walk mostly on high ground with good lookout views.
  • Ridge Road/Track (end of Kawerau Track to lighthouse): 25 mins one way. Near the lighthouse there is a beautiful grass track with great views.
  • Ngāti Paoa Track, Northeast Bay Track and East Coast Track (Kawerau Track to Northeast Bay to lighthouse): 2 hrs one way
Walk along Hobbs Beach Track- 1min


The lighthouse is is historic and provides a focal point for the island. It is the oldest lighthouse still in operation in New Zealand. It was also the first lighthouse to be built by the Government and was first lit in 1865.


The island is pest free and so it’s a great idea to support this concept by reading up on what to do when visiting a pest free island, see more here.

We were lucky enough to see Tui, Kōkako, Tīeke (Saddleback), Takahē, Toutouwai (North Island Robin), Titipounamu (Rifleman), Hihi, Weka and Kererū. I found the surrounding sound of birds (and not traffic) to be calming, relaxing and regenerative. Just the sort of thing we were dreaming of during lockdown.

It is difficult to photograph the little birds because they flit around very fast however if we were to make another trip we would probably spend the time needed to sit quietly and get the perfect photo. For our first trip we were more intent on walking along the tracks and through the bush to see as many birds as possible and to get an overall feel for the island.

Watch Tuis feeding and listen to their calls- 28sec

More Resources

DOC and Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi worked together on the re-planting and on the introduction of wildlife to the island and now are focused on ensuring the island remains a focal point for visitors to learn about conservation. Both groups have great information on their web sites and you can read more here and here.

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2 thoughts on “A Day Trip to Tiritiri Matangi Island Bird Sanctuary, Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau

  1. One of the best day or overnight trip, particularly nature and native birds, from Auckland. If you’re lucky, you might spot a kiwi! Great write up Janet. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

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