Motu Manawa (Pollen Island) Marine Reserve

A haven for wading and sea birds, you can see this marine reserve from Auckland's northwestern motorway.

The Motu Manawa Marine Reserve protects around 500 hectares of the inner reaches of Auckland's Waitemata Harbour. It includes the mudflats, tidal channels, mangrove swamp, saltmarsh and shellbanks surrounding Pollen and Traherne Islands. Auckland's northwestern motorway passes through the reserve (shortly after the Waterview exit if you are driving northwest). The best way to access this reserve is by sea kayak. Stopping on the side of the motorway is illegal.

The reserve’s mudflats are an important feeding ground for wading birds. Some (godwits, knots and sandpipers) are international migrants that breed in the north Asian wetlands during the northern spring and summer. To avoid the winter they fly south to enjoy New Zealand’s spring and summer. Most return to the northern hemisphere in March but a few birds, too young to breed, stay over.

Two mudflat feeders, the South Island pied oystercatcher and the wrybill, are internal or national migrants. They breed on the shingle beds of the South Island's braided rivers in spring but fly to northern harbours and estuaries for the late summer, autumn and early winter, making the return journey south in July or August.

The extensive mangrove and saltmarsh areas are rich feeding grounds for white faced herons, pukeko, spotless crake and the endangered banded rail. These wetlands are equally important for non-waders, including kingfishers and fernbirds.

The outer flats are regularly visited by red billed gulls, black backed gulls and their mottled brown juveniles. White fronted terns are usually seen in small flocks; caspian terns are less common – they have a full black cap and a large bright red bill.

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