Archives For Mana Island

Uncontrolled weeds, like the pink ragwort, are destroying our native landscapes and pushing out native plants and animals.

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Steep-sides and a flat-top. No, we’re not talking about our next hairstyle, we’re describing Mana Island — a distinctive landmark on Wellington’s west coast.

Today, Wellington Visitor Centre Ranger Don Herron, tells us about his recent visit to this pest-free island reserve…

I’ve often seen Mana Island from the mainland, and always thought it would be a rad place to visit.

Mana Island with and Kapiti Island in the background. Photo: Masivaan | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Mana Island as seen from Wharehou Bay near Makara. Kapiti Island in the distance

I recently got to confirm my hunch when I was invited over, together with local iwi, Zealandia, Wellington Zoo, Pukaha Mt Bruce, Staglands Wildlife Reserve, Friends of Mana Island, Rimutaka Forest Park Trust, and others from DOC.

Goldstriped-gecko on Mana Island


It was supposed to be a Christmas celebration but, due to bad weather twice cancelling the trip, it ended up being a New Year event. Third time lucky!

Jeff Hall, the Resident Ranger on Mana Island, welcomed us to the island and gave us a great introduction talk. He seemed as pleased to have visitors as we were to visit!

We heard two versions of how the island was formed – one about faulted terraces (yawn), the other, about a taniwha who crash landed on top of Mana causing the top of the island to be smashed off (yeah!)

Ranger Jeff, together with Ranger Di (Diane Batchelor), took us on walk around the island. During the 1½ hour ramble we saw: kākāriki chicks (“too cute” as my wife would say); a million geckos; takahē; variable oystercatchers; shore plover; and more.

Takahē on Mana Island.

Takahē on Mana Island

We finished our walk at North Bluff – the old lighthouse site and the highest point on the island. We were rewarded with magic views of Kapiti Island, Titahi Bay, the rugged west coast of Porirua; and even Ohau Point and the wind turbines.

North Bluff - the old lighthouse site and the highest point on the island.

North Bluff – the old lighthouse site and the highest point on the island

After some very nice kai, including fresh paua, we had a hui to talk about how we work together (and with others). There was an open floor to voice new ideas and discuss what has worked well in the past, and what can be done in the future.

After the meeting we made our way back past the historic woolshed to the beach to wait for the boat.

Wool from Mana Island sheep is reputed to be among the earliest exported from New Zealand, and the woolshed, from European occupation that began in the 1830s, has been recently restored.

When I heard the rumble of the boat heading back to collect us, I was tempted to run and hide. Explaining an “accidental” missed boat felt like a small price to pay to spend more time exploring this special place.

In the end I made the savvy career choice not to miss the boat, but that tempting view of the island from the mainland reminds me of my resolve to spend more time on Mana. It is indeed a rad place to visit.

Mana Island Scientific Reserve lies three kilometres off Wellington’s west coast and has been free of all introduced mammals since mice were eradicated in 1989. 

You can’t stay overnight on the island but visitors are welcome between 8.00 am and 5.00 pm.

By Jeff Hall, Biodiversity Ranger, Mana Island.

The takahē population on Mana Island have had a few new pairings formed over recent months, as a result of the sort of behaviour that could only be likened to an episode of “Days of our Lives” or “The Young and the Restless”.

Fence around takahē home on Mana Island.

Takahē home on Mana Island

While it is not always a good idea to anthropomorphise a wild animals behaviour, the antics of one of our recent immigrants does seem to warrant it.

McCaw (named when she hatched soon after the All Blacks won the 2011 Rugby World Cup) came to Mana Island from Maud Island in the Marlborough Sounds for an “arranged marriage” with one of our young lads.

McCaw spent three weeks in a large enclosure with her new suitor, Nohorua. They appeared to be getting along, but as it turned out she had other plans. The male from another pair that lived beside the enclosure had caught her eye. Within a couple of days of release McCaw left Nohorua, and used her youthful energy and good looks to split up the long established pairing of Kat and Santi.

Two takahē on Mana Island.

McCaw and Santi the takahē are nesting

But like all good day time television dramas these heart breaking acts had a happy outcome for some; McCaw and Santi have just started nesting. Kat – after licking her wounds and shaking her tail feathers has landed herself a younger man in Hori. But what of the jilted Nohorua you ask? His quest to find the perfect match continues.

Our takahē are well into another breeding season, with nine pairs nesting. The first nests of the season have started to hatch so hopefully we get a reasonable run of weather to help the chicks establish.

Three children coming face to face with a takahē on Mana Island.

Meeting a takahē

We had planned to do another egg transfer to Southland this year, but the birds had other plans. Our birds were a bit tardy in getting going while the southern “foster” pairs started earlier. The requirement for them to start around the same time was lost on the takahē, but at least they’re nesting!

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