Wild about Auckland

Auckland is a stunning natural playground where you can come up, close and personal with a vast array of marine and bird life.

New Zealand’s first national park of the sea, the Hauraki Gulf Marine Reserve is on Auckland’s doorsteps with a number of islands that are either totally or partially conservation land, managed by Department of Conservation.  

Great Barrier Island is a great place for bird watching and a haven for rare birds with pateke or brown teal, black petrel, small brown ducks, spotless crake and fern bird found amidst its wilderness along with more than 13 species of skinks, including rarest skink in the region – the chevron skink. Pest-free Rangitoto and Motutapu islands are home to the world’s largest pohutukawa forest that support endangered birds such as takahe and kiwi.  Tiritiri Matangi is another brilliant open wildlife sanctuary; 60% of the island is now forested and supports rare native birds and the wetapunga – New Zealand’s largest insect.

There are also five marine reserves in the region, each protecting what was once common habitat here.  Cape Rodney-Okakari Point (Goat Island) Marine Reserve is popular for diving and snorkelling with opportunity to view stingrays, colourful fish and the occasional shark while the Tāwharanui Marine Reserve is a hidden gem that houses a range of habitats.

Whales and dolphins abound in the protected waters of Hauraki Gulf. More than 22 species of whales and dolphins have been recorded in the Gulf with bottlenose dolphins, bryde’s whales and pilot whales most often sighted.  Humpback whales also pass through the Gulf waters while the orca (killer whale) sometimes ventures into the Waitemata Harbour.  Regular cruises offer year-round sightings of these majestic mammals. 

Only 15 minutes from Auckland CBD, Kelly Tarlton’s Sealife Aquarium is home to a collection of diverse aquatic life.  Here you can see the world’s largest sub-Antarctic penguin colony display, the world’s biggest species of stingray and New Zealand’s largest collection of sharks along with other spectacular marine life.  The adventurous can try one of their Shark Adventures like diving cage free with Shark Dive Xtreme.

One of the most progressive zoos in the world, Auckland Zoo is home to New Zealand’s largest collection of exotic and native species – all under one roof.  Far from a place where bored animals sit in cages and enclosures all day, animals and birds in the Auckland Zoo are housed in fascinating enclosures that replicate their natural environment.  Activities such as talks by zoo keepers, animal encounters, behind-the-scenes experiences and night safaris make the Auckland Zoo fun for all ages.

The windswept Muriwai Regional Park is home to one of the few remaining mainland ganet colonies in the country.  About 1200 pairs of ganets nest at the cliff-top Takapu Refuge located at the southern end of Muriwai Beach between August and March each year.  It’s an impressive sight, not to be missed.

Located near the Auckland Airport, Butterfly Creek is the only place in New Zealand that hosts giant saltwater crocodiles.  Its magnificent tropical butterfly collection is another big attraction.   

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