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Tiri Tiri Matangi Island – by Renee

by on June 18, 2016

Today we visited a unique bird sanctuary on an island, called Tiri Tiri Matangi (this translates as “wind tossed about” – an apt description.

This island was used by ranchers to graze their herds starting in the mid-1800’s so it was cleared and planted with European grasses.  In 1970 the grazing lease was not renewed and it became a reserve.  Starting in 1983 the island was planted with native trees and plants to help it ‘more quickly’ return to its natural state.  Today it is home to a range of endangered birds native to New Zealand.  We had a private guided tour and were lucky enough to see most of the endangered species on the island.  Walking through the sub-tropical rain forest was like hearing a symphony (or occasionally a rock concert) of birds singing.  I guess the New Zealand birds are more melodic and more camouflaged than those in Austraila (apparently this extends to the people as well).

Interesting things we learned:

  • New Zealand has NO SNAKES.  You know how happy this made me!
  • New Zealand for a combination of reasons has more flightless birds and more nocturnal birds than other areas.  (its a long way to fly and there were no ground-based predators as the island had NO MAMMALS until visited by the Polynesians who brought rats with them as food).
  • The island has been successful at creating habitat for endangered New Zealand native birds – in fact we saw 1%  of all the Takahe birds in existence – and you can see them in this photo.

  • We didn’t see a Kiwi since they are nocturnal.

A few other observations on New Zealand:

– This is the cleanest city I’ve ever seen.  Part of that is that they wash the sidewalks EVERY SINGLE DAY.  You can’t tell if it has rained by looking at the street in the morning — it’s wet regardless. 

– Its chilly here in mid-winter.  Damp, windy, a bit like San Francisco in the winter.  Could be much worse.

– The people are SUPER NICE.  Every single person we have come in contact with has been nice – and best of all – they all speak English so we know what they are saying.  

– New Zealand is spectacularly beautiful.  It’s green, and the water is clean and clear.  

We have hiked one of the 53 small volcanos that are around Auckland, taken two ferries (25% of the residents of Auckland own a boat – the highest percentage of boat ownership in the world), and had the best fish and chips ever at the Auckland Fish Market.

Tomorrow we depart for Rotorua seeing the Glowworm caves and Bilbo Baggins’ house along the way!

We are missing having Cousin Rachel along with us  like last year – but happy to have Aunt Ginny in her place (for the first few weeks).

More photos from our day:


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  1. Dave Howes permalink

    Sounds like you are really enjoying New Zealand. When I was in my 20s it was my dream to eventually move to New Zealand. I had a very close family friend that was station there during the war and his description was California one Hundred years earlier.

  2. Lucy permalink

    Renee- congrats on finding a country with no snakes. I’m sure you couldn’t be happier 🙂

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