Before the Maori arrived in NZ there were no mammals in the island save bats. Still investigating but it appears many fruits and vegetables were also not available. Since then things have changed and NZ exports fruits and vegetables to China as well as all over the world.
Loss of Birds
However it is the introduction of predatory mammals that have had a detrimental effect on the flightless and flightful birds native to NZ presumably since the land mass broke away from Australia.
In addition to a reconciliation effort with the Maori, Kiwis are also trying to help the remaining native bird populations by using reserve islands where predatory mammals may not easily migrate. One of these is Tiri Tiri Matangi.
Tours can be booked from the wharf and leave from Pier 4. You can purchase just the tickets at the wharf, and take a 45 minute ride to the Island. Note that you can purchase just the ferry ride or, book a ferry and guided tour. The guides are locals who love love love the native birds.
Arduous But Worth It
Upon arriving you will be broken up into groups and have the option of taking two trails to reach the summit point, where there is a lighthouse, gift shop and fantastic views. Make no mistake both paths are difficult if you have mobility or health issues. I really wanted the insights from the guides, and they can spot the birds better than I can. Though if you are a birder you can probably find some birds on your own as someone in my group found the Red Crowned Parakeet.
I did not take the longer route, it appeared to be more rugged so it was ruled out due to balance issues. The shorter route had good trails with stopping/viewing points along the way. Finally at the top there is an information area with free tea and coffee, a gift shop, and a walk out near the lighthouse where you can see Takahe and Pukeko.
There are some differences although they look similar at first glance. There are also Kiwi birds here, but hey are nocturnal so you won’t see them on the day trip. If you are interested in spying them, you do have the option of spending the night, but this must be reserved well in advance. Probably if I had more time in Auckland, I would want to try the overnight, but this time it was not to be.