Tiritiri Matangi Open Sanctuary#8 in Best Things To Do in Auckland
Bird lovers and outdoor enthusiasts cannot miss a chance to visit Tiritiri Matangi Open Sanctuary. Located on Tiritiri Matangi Island in the Hauraki Gulf (and within view of Rangitoto Island and Waiheke Island), this wildlife sanctuary is considered one of New Zealand's most successful conservation projects. Notable wildlife found on the island include little spotted kiwis, tuis, tuataras and South Island takahes.
Recent visitors appreciated this wildlife sanctuary's natural beauty and its top-notch hiking trails, adding that they saw several bird species during their visits. To make the most of your time on the island, some recommended taking a guided walk, which lasts up to two hours and is bookable on 360 Discovery Cruises' website.
Tiritiri Matangi Open Sanctuary is accessible by ferry from the Downtown Ferry Terminal. Ferries depart at 9 a.m. and return to the city at 4:40 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday from mid-January to Christmas Eve and daily from December 26 to mid-January. Round-trip ferry tickets for adults cost 75 New Zealand dollars (roughly $54). (Discounted fares are available for children ages 5 to 15.) You can also reach the island by private boat or kayak.
The island itself is free to visit, but guided walks cost NZ$10 (about $7) per adult and NZ$2.50 (less than $2) for each child. Another option is to explore the property on your own; free map and track information can be found online. For additional time on shore, arrange to stay overnight in the island's bunkhouse. Bunkhouse space fills up quickly, so plan on booking overnight stays via the Department of Conservation website several months in advance. A lighthouse and visitor center with a gift shop are available as well, but remember to pack meals and snacks if you want to eat on-site. Check out Tiritiri Matangi Open Sanctuary's website to learn more.
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#1 Rangitoto Island
Situated just off the coast of central Auckland across from Devonport is Rangitoto Island, a volcanic island known for its superb hiking trails and panoramic views. Multiple trails are available for island exploration, including the popular Summit Track, which takes hikers through lava fields and the world's largest pohutukawa forest to the island's summit.
Prepare for stunning vistas and a steep, yet doable hike when visiting Rangitoto Island. If you're not keen on hiking, travelers recommend opting for Fullers' Volcanic Explorer Tour, which includes round-trip ferry transfers to and from downtown Auckland and a four-wheel drive road train tour of the island.
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