Posted by: Ross Gardner | May 8, 2018

Paradise reborn

Tiritiri view beach 5 (scaled)

Tiritiri Matangi

Tiritiri Matangi is quite a place.  It is a small island of some 220 hectares in area, located in the Hauraki Gulf a few kilometres offshore of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, not far from Auckland.  By the early 1980s the island had been relieved of almost all its indigenous habitat and turned over to farming.  However, through the inspirational efforts of some forward thinking naturalists the island has been transformed.  A mere 6% of the native bush survived, but an epic ten-year tree planting programme from 1984-94 has turned the island into a paradise reborn.  To the initiated with no knowledge of its recent history, Tiritiri looks and feels like the habitat of centuries, much less a few decades.

Another key to the island’s wonder is its pest free status.  There are no land mammals native to New Zealand, save for two species of bat (a third has become extinct).  Everything else – the rabbits and rats, the stoats, possums and others – is the result of human introduction.  In so many cases these introductions have had catastrophic consequences for the native birdlife, having evolved without any mammalian predators and quite ill-equipped to deal with their impromptu presence.  The result has been the decimation of many populations of species unique to the islands and sadly the out-and-out extinction of some.  Islands like Tiritiri Matangi, defendable against destructive aliens, have offered a lifeline for some of these birds which otherwise might have been lost.  Many such birds have been successfully introduced (or in some cases reintroduced) onto Tiritiri, making it a fabulous location to see these birds living in the wild.  It is also a very beautiful place into the bargain.

Unfortunately I didn’t manage to photograph to delightful Little Brown Kiwi that we saw during our overnight stay on the island, but here a few others that I did manage to snap…

Takahe - Tiritiri 2 (scaled)

The Takahe was actually considered extinct until the discovery in the 1940s of tiny population surviving in mountains of the South Island’s Fiordland.

Kokako (scaled)

The total population of Kokako stands at around just 2000 birds.

Saddleback (scaled)

Several hundred Saddleback thrive on Tiritiri.

Red-crowned Parakeet 4 (scaled)

Rare on mainland New Zealand, the Red-crowned Parakeet is thriving on island sanctuaries like Tiritiri.


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