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May 22, 2009

Women on the Move!

Our local council runs a program called Women on the Move. Each month they organize a day trip to help women get out in the great outdoors, exercise and have some fun. I took a day off writing today and joined their day trip to Tiritiri Matangi.

Tiritiri Matangi means “looking to the wind”. It’s an island sanctuary in the Hauraki Gulf, not far from Auckland. Not that long ago Tiritiri was farmed and the original forest cut down to make way for grassland. The Department of Conservation took over the island and hundreds of volunteers replanted native trees to reforest the island. All pests such as rats, cats, mice and stoats were eradicated. Once this was done some of New Zealand’s rarer birds were introduced to the pest-free sanctuary.

Before we arrived at the island by ferry we were asked to check our shoes and remove mud etc. We also had to check our bags and remove any rats or mice or other pests we found. Luckily I was all safe on that score!


The weather has been horrid for the last couple of weeks but today it was a gorgeous morning. We walked through the bush, stopping regularly to check out the birds we saw.


Today we saw:
Kakariki (a green parakeet)
North Island robin
Kokako (very rare)
Wood pigeon
Takahe (thought extinct and rediscovered in 1948)

They have kiwis on the island, although they’re nocturnal so we didn’t see any. They also have tuatara but the winter sun wasn’t enough to entice them out of their burrows.

It started raining just as we headed to the lighthouse for lunch. There’s a takahe called Greg. He’s 16 years old and is very bossy and cheeky. He hovered under our tables and tried to grab our sandwiches if we held them within his reach. He wandered inside the coffee shop, much to the amusement of the group of school kids and tried his luck in there before one of the ladies shooed him outside.


After lunch we explored a little more, checking out the birds at the feeders before we headed down to the wharf to catch the ferry back to inner Auckland. I really enjoyed my day on Tiritiri.



This is what a normal takahe looks like. They normally graze on grass not sandwiches stolen from lunch boxes.


  1. Roberta Harwell

    Oh, how I love your pictures. Please keep them coming. Have a great day.

  2. Debra Kayn

    This utterly fascinates me! How people can eradicate species, introduce other species, and find the balance to sustain life. Amazing, yet scary if the program fails.

    Here in Oregon, there have been groups that try to control the coyote population, so the deer can populate, but then they find out the deer are starving because there are too many. It is a balancing act that I sometimes think the animals can figure out better than the humans, lol.

    Thanks for posting the links to the other birds, I will be sure to check them out later…I’ve never heard of most of them. Once again, you have impressed me with your travels. :-)

  3. Lucinda

    What a beautiful place. The world needs more sanctuaries like that one.

  4. Helen Hardt

    What gorgeous photos!

  5. Amy Ruttan

    Very cool!! Sounds like my type of outting.

  6. Shelley Munro

    Roberta – I’m glad you enjoy the photos. I have a few more and will probably put them up on my website as soon as I get organized.

    Debra – NZ does a really great job with its endangered birds. We have an increasing number of pest free islands and also “islands” on the mainland protected by fences where our endemic native birds do really well. I can’t understand the reasoning of people wanting to protect deer above the coyote. There has to be a natural balance.

  7. Shelley Munro

    Lucinda and Helen – I’m glad you enjoyed the virtual trip to Tiritiri.

    Amy – the group are going to a tree climbing exercise next month. I’m still undecided. I don’t mind heights etc. and should be okay. They’re a very supportive group.

  8. Paz

    Very cool place to visit. Cool bird, too.


  9. Nancy Henderson

    What a great group! I wish they had something like that in my area. That bird is so fascinating. We don’t have anything like that here, sadly. The most colorful birds I come across are cardinals and bluejays. I just love birds!

  10. Kaye Manro

    What a wonderful trip, Shelley. Just the break needed from writing I’m sure. It’s nice to get out and see such beautiful places.

  11. Barbara Martin

    Sounds like a wonderful trip and educational too! I really like the photos of the takahe, a very different bird than those we have in the northern hemisphere.

  12. Shelley Munro

    Hi Paz! Great to see you. :grin:

    Nancy – NZ has some really interesting birds. Many of them are flightless or don’t fly well, which means they’re vulnerable to pests. We have some great programs here to protect ours birds.

    Kaye – it was a nice break from writing, although I did do a bit of plotting throughout the day. It’s hard not to!

    Barbara – We do have some interesting birds.

  13. Cora Zane

    Oh, wow! I love the photos. What an awesome trip! I wish they had something like Women on the Move around here.