Bird watching in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf

New Zealand is well known for its abundance of bird life and with pest-free islands, plenty of coastline and a productive ocean east of Auckland City.

Pest-free Islands

Over 44 of the islands and islets in the Hauraki Gulf are pest-free which is allowing the native bird life of New Zealand to flourish. The Department of Conservation, Auckland Council, Auckland Zoo and various volunteer groups are using some of these islands to create sanctuaries for some of our most endangered birds.

Spend a day at islands such as Tiritiri Matangi and you could see multiple birds including wattlebirds (North Island saddleback and North Island kokako), takahe, fernbirds, kaka and North Island tomtits to name a few. There’s also the option to stay overnight where you could spot the little spotted kiwi and little blue penguin.


There are hundreds of kilometres of shoreline in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park meaning there’s plenty of opportunity to see shorebirds too.

This includes the pest-free islands and regional parks on the mainland. New Zealand dotterels, herons, oystercatchers shore plovers and shags can all be seen here.

The Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre is approximately an hour away from Auckland City where you can see approximately half the population of the endemic Wrybill.

The Ocean

Approximately 70 (20%) of the world’s seabird species have been sighted in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. 27 of these species breed in the marine park each year and some of them have only ever been seen to breed here.

Commonly seen species out on the water include the impressive Australasian gannet, storm petrels (white-faced and New Zealand), several different species of shearwater and the smallest penguin species in the world – the little blue penguin.

Many of these seabirds can be seen feeding in association with other animals such as predatory fish like kahwai and marine mammals such as common dolphins and Bryde’s whales.

To find out more information about how to see the marine park’s seabirds, head to

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