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The takahe, although very rare, is not shy at all.
Update 24 July 2008
The ferry company operating the trip to Tiritiri Matangi has changed (and if only the name...) since I wrote my tip: It is no more the Kawau Cat Ferry but 360 Discovery - and it now costs NZ$ 66. Contact details for 360 Discovery at the end of the tip.
Only one word is good enough to describe Tiritiri Matangi: Paradise! Once this little island in the Hauraki Gulf, only 30km north of Auckland, was destroyed by extensive farming, now it is a bird paradise, run by volunteers who replanted native vegetation. They also look after many endangered and common endemic and native birds.
The stars are the takahes. Those big flightless birds have been thought to be extinct for 50 years until they were found again in 1948. On Tiritiri M. you can easily imagine how this could happen. They are absolutely fearless and do not bother your company at all, they walk and graze a metre in front of you. That is the reason why they now have to live in protected areas and on predator-free islands like Tiritiri Matangi.
Other birds enjoy such perfect conditions as well. You will see red-crowned parakeets sitting on the stakes of flax, tuis, etc. Nowhere else in New Zealand can you readily walk amongst so many species. 78 different kinds of birds have been spotted on the island.
You can walk on your own in this open sanctuary. Take the ferry from Auckland (1:15h) - departure at 9am, Wednesday to Sunday only, return at 3.30pm. (From Boxing Day - 26 December - until mid January daily.) Sailings via Gulf Harbour (9.50am - 4pm).
This service ensures that there are only 150 visitors per day on the island. After an introduction by a volunteer at the wharf you can explore the island. Buy a map in Auckland or on the ferry (1 NZ$) or download it from the Tiritiri website, take something to eat and drink with you, then keep to the left (towards Hobbs Beach) while most people walk directly up to the lighthouse and a takahe enclosure. Take your time to sit on the benches in the forests - when you are still a lot more birds will fly around you. The fantails are the exception. As you know, they try to catch the insects that flee from you... ;-) The takahes spend their day in grassland.
Allow four to five hours for the walk. There are also short guided tours on offer. Accommodation in simple bunk rooms possible - but you have to bring your own sleeping bag.
Bookings with 360 Discovery are essential.
Freephone 0800 360 3472
Phone 09 424 5510
Fax 09 424 6093
To confirm sailing on the day phone 0800 326 824) after 7am.
Other Contact: www.360discovery.co.nz
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