Auckland Baptist Tramping Club

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Base map: NZTopoOnline, extracted July 2005, Crown Copyright Reserved  

Tiritiri Matangi Island has always been a popular destination for Club trips, both in the 1980s on tree-planting bees, and in more recent years when that work has grown to maturity. This time we had over 35 people turn up on a glorious cloudless “day out of the box”.

We left The Bracken at 8am to meet up with more people at Gulf Harbour in plenty of time to catch the ferry leaving there at 9:45am for the 20 minute journey to Tiritiri Matangi Island.

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Once on the island we, along with a horde of other people who had travelled by boat all the way from downtown Auckland, were briefed by DOC staff on what to do and what not to do (which included being asked to switch off cellphones to allow people to enjoy the music of the birdlife uninterrupted in this “special place”).
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For our guided walk we were broken up into smaller groups each with a volunteer guide. These are normal working people who enjoy giving up the occasional weekend to show people this open wildlife sanctuary; the $5 charged for the walk goes completely to conservation work on the island, and the guides are rewarded with the joy and satisfaction of sharing  this place with others.
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We went along the Wattle Track, named after the wattle trees that fringe the Wharf Road. These exotic trees may be a gardener’s nightmare, but provide a rich and precious food supply for the birdlife. At this time of the year the wattle is in full flower, a display of God’s beauty.
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Our guides made frequent stops along the track - there were many birds to see, and lovely God-composed music to enjoy in the birdsong. Beside a pond at the start were some brown teal ducks. The friendliest birds were the robin, often seen on the pathway ahead of us. Up in the trees were tuis browsing the nectars of their fruits. Other birds we spotted included whiteheads, saddlebacks and stitchbirds.
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The track was mostly in bush; we had one or two occasional outlooks.
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It was midday by the time we reached the top of Wattle Track, and we went on to the broad open grassland of Ridge Road to see the takahe birds and the view all around from what was effectively the summit of the island. Fantails fluttered around us.
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We had our lunch on the grass area beside the lighthouse. More birdlife to see - any crumbs that fell as we ate were promptly hoovered up by a horde of hungry sparrows.
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Afterwards it was free time until 3:15pm when we had to be at the wharf ready to board the homebound ferry. All of us took advantage of the lovely afternoon to explore the many tracks and features of the island - some in groups, some in threes, one or two couples, and one or two who chose to enjoy this very special place in solitude.
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The rugged east coast of the island was lovely.
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On the west side was the site of a former Maori pa with views out to Shakespear Park, and down to the beach below.
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Hobbs Beach would be very inviting had it been summer instead of winter.
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Two baby penguins were seen nesting in an observation box near the end of the Hobbs Beach track close to the wharf.
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We boarded the ferry for the trip back to Gulf Harbour at 3:15pm, and left Tiritiri Matangi at 3:30pm. To cap off a very interesting and worthwhile day we latted at a cafe in Gulf Harbour overlooking a pond with lovely reflections.
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COSTS: Ferry trip $25, travel $7, guided walk $5.