The island of Tiritiri Matangi in Auckland’s Bay of Islands is home to a flock of endangered native birds, which you can spot as you loop your way around the island.


  • Abundant birdlife, including endangered and endemic birds
  • Easy return ferry from Auckland CBD
  • See the results of 35 years of volunteer-led conservation efforts
  • Fantastic views back to Auckland and going for a dip at Hobbs Beach


Hiking the Circumference of Tiritiri Matangi

If you have a day to spare in Auckland, there are heaps of options for day trips to the Bay of Islands. Tiritiri Matangi is the island furthest away from the hustle and bustle of city life, with visitor numbers capped per day and the only permanent inhabitants being the local flora and fauna.

The main activity on the island is a walk around its circumference, which you can do in the 3.5 hours you have on the island, (provided you don’t stop every five minutes like us to check out every bird you spot).

Key locations on the island include the visitor centre where you can learn about the conservation efforts, the lighthouse, and Hobbs Beach.


Birdspotting on Tiritiri Matangi

The main attraction, however, is the dozens of birds endemic to New Zealand. New Zealand evolved in such isolation that it has no native mammals (except bats), which means birds ruled the roost for millions of years. 

The introduction of mammals such as possums and stoats, however, has decimated bird populations, especially ground-dwelling species. That’s why islands such as Tiritiri Matangi, that are free of these pests, are so important.

For instance the Takahe was presumed extinct until it was rediscovered in 1948 in a single valley of the Murchison Mountains. The current population is now 418 due to New Zealand’s longest-running endangered species programme.

Other endemic birds include the Hihi, Kaka, Kakariki, Kereru, Korimako, Tieke and Popkotea. There are bird spotting lists available online, allowing you to go full birdwatcher mode and tick off each rare species as you spot them.

Essential Gear

  • Swimmers
  • Good walking shoes
  • Binoculars are helpful
  • Camera with decent zoom

How To Get There

There’s a ferry leaving from the Downtown Ferry Terminal right next to Britomart train station at 9:00am, with the return ferry leaving at 3:30pm.

The ferry takes 75 minutes and runs from Wednesday to Sunday. It’s also possible to get on the same ferry at Gulf Harbour, which only takes 20 minutes.


  • Birdwatching
  • Photography
  • Swimming
  • Walking

Skill Level

Beginner – A decent level of fitness is required to do the full island walk, but there are many tracks to pick so you can choose one that suits your level.

Distance Covered

10km walk around the island, mainly flat and good tracks.


Feature photo by Matt Crawford thanks to Tourism NZ