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New Zealand: Tiritiri Matangi Lets Your Spirits Soar

New Zealand Christmas Tree

Tiritiri Matangi is everything a vacation tour should be. An enthusiastic, knowledgeable tour guide takes a small group into the wilderness and provides information in a fun, interesting way while making sure to point out the birds that happen to fly nearby. Tiritiri Matangi goes a step further because it provides the ability to listen to the birds as well as see them.

If you get the opportunity to choose between the short trail or the long trail with a guide, choose the long trail and either way always choose to have a guide. You’ll see so much more because:

  • The guide will know what he or she is looking for.
  • Other guides on the trail will point out unusual birds (like the nocturnal morepork owl in broad daylight).
  • The other people in the group will also spot birds and interesting sights.
Morepork owl in the daytime!
Morepork owl in the daytime!

Tiritiri Matangi is a reclamation project of sorts. The island was leased as a farm in the not-so-distant past. In 1971, the government decided not to renew the lease. They initially set it up as a recreational area. Some scientists decided to study how fast the bush would grow back on a farming area, and when they realized the answer was close to “not-at-all,” they decided to revive and reforest the area. It was a first-of-its-kind project.

In the 1980s, native trees were planted to provide shelter for birds, and New Zealand bird species were reintroduced to the area. The area is still too young to provide enough food for all the birds all year round, so there are bird feeders available for the smaller birds that drink nectar as their main nutritional source.

We loved the Korora, or little blue penguins. We got to see them in their nesting boxes. The Oyster Catchers with their bright red bills and their misnomer story were great to see. And I got to see Tree Weta! They look like grasshoppers, but they don’t hop. (That’s where Weta Workshop (affiliate link), the special effects geniuses behind the Lord of the Rings trilogy and more, got its name! Who knew it was a New Zealand insect?)

We decided that this would be one great way to support penguins and other birds. So, we became “Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi Island.” We’re so excited to be a part of this group that is providing a beautiful and necessary service to the world. They have an overseas option for people who want to get involved from afar.

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