Tiritiri Matangi Island is a wildlife sanctuary and probably the best place to observe native New Zealand birds. The island is located 30km northeast from Auckland and is completely pest-free so that the birds can flourish – and it’s definitely working, they’re everywhere!!
To get to Tiritiri Matangi Island, you can take a 360 Discovery ferry from either Auckland ($66) or Whangaparaoa ($49). Pack a lunch with you as there are no food shops on the island, but there are toilets, a gift shop and a bunkhouse where you can stay overnight (wish I knew this beforehand, I totally would have stayed over!). You can also take a guided tour of the island (we did) which is really helpful to distinguish the different bird songs and show you some good spots!
Birds we saw during our visit: Tui, Bellbird, Takahe, Kakariki, Whitehead, North Island Robin, Stitchbird, Fernbird, New Zealand Pigeon, Paradise Shelduck, Fantail. Kingfisher, Pukeko, Oystercatcher, Little Blue Penguins and Shags.
I would totally recommend Tiritiri Matangi Island to visit on your trip to New Zealand, especially if you’re staying in Auckland and need an escape from the city. It is a bird watcher’s paradise, but even if you’re not a hardcore binocular-carrying bird fanatic… it’s still an amazing place!