Auckland’s natural beauty is not a still-life painting; it’s a thriving ecosystem. As such, there’s just as much joy and wonder to be had in spying glimpses of the wildlife as there is in admiring the scenic views. For your best chance at spotting some of the more interesting locals, you’ll want to pay a visit to the following places.
With all 544 acres of the island converted to an open wildlife sanctuary, Tiritiri Matangi Island sings with life—literally. Birdsong rings out from every nook and cranny of the island, as one of the most successful conservation projects in the world boasts plenty of feathered patrons. In your treks throughout the island, keep an eye out for bellbirds, grey warblers, stitchbirds, fantails, North Island robins, red-crowned parakeets, and the ever-adorable little blue penguin.
For the best chance at sneaking a peek at New Zealand’s legendary Brown Kiwi, you’ll want to sign up for a habitat tour of Tawharanui Regional Park. There’s no guarantee you’ll spot the peculiar looking bird, but you’ll improve your chances greatly by visiting at night—the Kiwi is nocturnal after all. For this reason, a guide is ideal. Or, if you’re adamant a daytime-trip is for you, couple the Kiwi-spotting with a visit to Tawharanui’s flawless white-sand beaches for some sun and surfing.
Auckland isn’t just home to an assortment of exceptional birds: its proximity to the Hauraki Gulf make it the perfect home base for a marine adventure. Depending on the tour you sign up for, it’s likely you’ll spot whales and dolphins frolicking in the deep blue surf.
The first marine reserve of New Zealand, Goat Island is more than the name suggests. The shores of the island offer a variety of underwater habitats, with the sea-life present at each being just as eclectic. For this reason, Goat-Island is a snorkeler’s heaven. You can spot anemones, octopi and nudibranchs along much of the seabed, all the while being swarmed by schools of curious fish. Dolphins and orcas may even arrive to swim with you, making for quite the memorable afternoon.
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