This 544-acre/220-hectare island is 75 minutes by boat from downtown Auckland. In the Hauraki Gulf, it is one of New Zealand's greatest conservation success stories. The island was farmed for generations, overrun with rats and other introduced pests, and almost all the native forest had been destroyed.
In the early 1980s a group of dedicated volunteers started restoring the island to its natural state. The forest was replanted and a massive campaign of pest eradication allowed for the successful re-introduction of native birds. Tiritiri Matangi is now home to such rare species as the takahe (a flightless bird thought to have been extinct until 1948), kiwi, saddlebacks and stitchbirds, all roaming free, undisturbed and within plain view of visitors. A must for bird lovers. 360 Discovery (http://www.360discovery.co.nz) runs ferries to the island departing at 9 am from Auckland (Pier 4, 139 Quay St.) and leaving the island again at 3:30 pm. NZ$70 adults, NZ$40 children. Bookings are essential, and there are no shops, so you will need to either reserve a packed lunch in advance or buy from the vessel cafe. Phone 0800-360-3472. http://www.tiritirimatangi.org.nz.
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