A family adventure on Tiritiri Matangi

Sarah Mankelow —  28/05/2013

The family-focused conservation education programme Kiwi Ranger is being launched on Tiritiri Matangi Island this Queen’s Birthday weekend—for the first time giving Auckland kids the chance to be accredited as Kiwi Rangers.

Christchurch family Steve, Jenny and Meg visited Tiritiri Matangi while staying with family at Christmas. Having done two South Island Kiwi Ranger sites, they are now planning for a return visit to Tiritiri to earn their third badge. Jenny recalls their day:

Jenny and Meg on the boat to Tiritiri Matangi Island.

Jenny and Meg on the boat to Tiritiri Matangi Island

Steve had always wanted to go to Tiritiri, so we decided to go before Christmas—before the hordes. The forecast was not great, with cyclone warnings, but the day turned out beautiful.

We bought a guide book on the boat so, when we arrived, we headed straight up the Wattle Track, which meanders up to the lighthouse and visitor centre.

I heard a strange noise, and then we saw it—a takahē skulking in the bushes. Meg thought that was pretty great.

Jenny reading interpretation panels on the island.

Jenny reading the interpretation panels

We checked out the lighthouse and spent a bit of time looking at the really good history interpretation panels.

The old fog horn captured my imagination; I loved the old pictures of it originally sited over the cliff, and then seeing the replica one.

Walking on Tiritiri Matangi.

A wonderful day for a walk on Tiri

By then it was lunchtime, so we sat down in a big grassy area and ate while we chatted to the friendly DOC ranger.

We checked out the visitor centre and the shop, where I finished off my Christmas shopping. It seemed crazy shopping on an offshore island, but hey, they had some pretty funky things, and I felt good that my money was going to support a good cause.

Ground dwelling birds on Tiritiri Matangi.

Quail. Tiritiri Matangi is one of the most successful conservation projects in the world. Predators have been eradicated and rare native birds and animals have been returned to its now-safe and restored habitats

We walked along the ridge track and got nice views all around the Hauraki Gulf, and looked for things rustling in bushes.

Tui having a dust bath.

Tui having a dust bath

The most amazing thing about the trip was how close we got to the birds. On the mainland most forest birds hang out high in the canopy, but on Tiri they were actually scuttling around on the ground. We saw tui and quail having dust baths right on the track!

Jenny and Meg walking in the bush.

There is something magic about just wandering

We weren’t sure how long it would take to walk the tracks with Meg, so we played it safe and headed down the Kawerau Track. In hindsight we probably could have gone further, but in some ways it was quite nice not to ‘frog-march’ around the island. There is something really magic about just wandering—taking time to see things properly.

The Kawerau Track was a really special old piece of forest, with pūriri and other really cool trees that you just don’t see in the South Island.

Meg walking on track in bush.

We weren’t sure with Meg how long it would take to walk the tracks. In hindsight we probably could have gone further

Meg on track - Tiritiri Matangi

Meg

We had time on our hands so we ended up down on the beach and went for a swim before heading back to the boat.

We’d seen saddlebacks, takahē, amazing flowering rata and pohutukawa but, while we were waiting for the boat, we heard these people talking about seeing a kōkako. Steve was a bit disappointed to have missed that, so yes, we were thinking about coming back before we’d even left the island! And with Kiwi Ranger on the island now, Meg is pretty keen to get her hands on the badge. I know from having done it in other places it’s a great way to discover the hidden secrets of a place like Tiri.

When we come back we’ll walk some of the other tracks and we’d love to go stay overnight to hear a kōkako calling and experience the dawn chorus.

Meg was pretty quiet on the boat home. She sat leaning on the railing looking back towards the island as we pulled away. She’d had quality time with mum and dad, been for a swim, and seen some cool birds. It’s the kind of family time that makes for great memories, memories that last a lifetime.

Kiwi Ranger text with image of Tiri showing saddleback and lighthouse.

Kiwi Ranger is being launched on Tiritiri Matangi over this Queen’s Birthday weekend, 1-3 June 2013. Join Lucy Lawless to become one of the first Tiritiri Kiwi Rangers! 

Ferry company, 360 Discovery, are making it easy for families to travel to the island during Queen’s Birthday Weekend. One child may travel free with each fare-paying adult. Go to their website or call 0800 360 3472 to book.

The Kiwi Ranger programme will be ongoing, so visit any day Wed -Sun for a fun family day out with a difference.

Sarah Mankelow

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A North Island defector, I came south to go to Lincoln Uni and never looked back. My first ‘serious’ job with DOC was in Arthur’s Pass. I've been based in Christchurch since the turn of the century!