"Place tossed by the wind"
The magic of Tiritiri Matangi doesn´t come from just a single presence on the island. Its history, the passion of the volunteers, the personnel, the old growth forest, the rare autochthonous birds and the tuatara…. these are all tussles of a bigger mosaic that makes Tiritiri Matangi island the magical place we experienced.
Tiritiri Matangi is a small pest-free island located north east of Auckland, the result of a collaboration between a community-based initiative and the Department of Conservation which created this scientific reserve.
Most people visit it as a day-trip destination, which means that from 10:30 am (when the morning ferry arrives -about 1:15 hours travel time) to 3:30 pm (when the afternoon ferry departs the island) the island is a little bit crowded. This is not necessarily a negative point, on the opposite, considering that the birds are not disturbed by the human presence, having more eyes searching for bird could be an advantage.
We arrived in Tiriti Matangi on a Wednesday morning together with another 100-150 passengers. The ferry ride provided great views over the Auckland, Rangitoto island, the coast, and if you pay close attention, even penguins floating in the water. The atmosphere on the ferry was surprisingly festive, and there was a lot of chit-chat among all the passengers, as if we were in a big family reunion.
Many volunteers were also just being ferried over for the day to offer guided visits (10 dollars per person), raising money for the conservation activities by the “Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi Incorporated”. Not only did we enjoy a personalized guided tour upon our arrival, for after seeing the effort and the success of the project, we felt that every single dollar we spent for going toward a good cause and was well spent. Our bags were also picked up at the wharf and shuttled to the hut, so we could fully enjoy the hike without the discomfort of extra weight (carry a little bag with you with the essential like water, snack for child, sunscreen, camera…).
The hut is in reality an idyllic bunkhouse close to the historical lighthouse built in 1864. It has all you need for a comfortable stay: a fully furnished kitchen, hot water and electricity, with 15 beds available divided into 3 different room, and another room reserved for scientists and volunteers. And it is magical. It is magical for the people that you will meet there, passionate, world-travelled, interesting, sharing… We grouped together at night to look for kiwi, we shared location and insights, and of course we found an aunty to hold Rascal for a baby-hands-free dinner
We spent only 2 nights on the island because, we thought, how else can you do on a 2.2 km2 island? In reality, we soon realized we could have easily spent here much longer because the meaning of this place is not covering distances. On the opposite, you will get the most walking every single step with awareness: listen to the call of the birds or the noise of the leaves being turned over by the kiwi or the tuatara, listen to the people of Tiritiri or the imaginary tales of the trees of the old growth forest (Paikea, “The old man of Tiritiri Matangi”), admire the rare and common animals as well as spectacular views over the ocean and the surrounding islands and mainland, learn about the history and most importantly, about the power of a community-lead initiative that made a big difference and is now an example for similar projects around the Gulf.
We warmly advise a visit here, spending a couple of nights. It is the perfect place to go as soon as you arrive in New Zealand: comfortably reachable from Auckland, get over jet-lag and actually spend those sleepless night looking for kiwi; test your gear and engage your child on short but extremely rewarding walks or enjoy the gorgeous Hobb´s beach…
As the ferry doesn´t operate Mondays and Tuesday, we recommend these nights if you want to avoid day-trippers.
- 1400: first Maori settlements
- 1800-1971: farming and grazing by English settlers
- 1984-1994: revegetation project
- Reintroducton of birds and tuatara
Book the hut here + Maps of trails
(call for overnight stay: 09 307 8005)
Note: the words "kiwi" and "tuatara" are Maori words, and they do not have a plural...