Walks & Activities

Although the wildlife is the main attraction for visitors, there are a number of activities for those interested in water-based activities, the island’s early settlement or maritime history.

Wildlife watching

If you are a day visitor, you can explore the various tracks throughout the island, many of which access beaches, ponds and streams which are home to a range of wildlife.

Here are some top tips for wildlife spotters:

  • Sit by a sugar-water feeder and observe the korimako/bellbird, tūī and hihi as they feed.  
  • Count the freshwater fish in the streams that weave throughout the Kawerau track.  
  • Wētāpunga can often be found on the trees that dot the Wattle track, so keep a beady eye out for these giant insects. 
  • Park up at one of the bird baths on the Wattle Track. Typically there is a queue of birds waiting in the trees, so there are plenty of photo opportunities! 

Low-cost guided tours of the island are also available, which are led by our friendly and knowledgeable volunteer guides.

Historical activities

  • Learn about the ancient refuse stations or middens, kūmara pits and other areas of cultural and historic interest.
  • See the oldest working lighthouse in New Zealand. The Tiritiri lighthouse was shipped from England in 1864 and equipped later with a blindingly bright light of one-million candlepower that stretched over 80 kms. 
  • At the lighthouse precinct you will also find a watchtower, lighthouse keepers cottages (which are now used as accommodation) and a diaphonic foghorn. 

Beach activities

  • Go for a swim or snorkel in the crystal clear water at Hobbs Beach.
  • Look for small sea creatures in the many rock pools that are formed at low tide.
  • Enjoy the shade of ancient pōhutukawa trees.
  • Watch out for sea and coastal birds like kōtare/kingfisher, tōrea pango/variable oystercatcher, red billed and black backed gulls.

Activities for young children

  • Pick up a Kiwi Ranger booklet on arrival (just ask any of the guides), complete the tasks and earn a Kiwi Ranger badge. 
  • Spend the afternoon in the Visitor Centre – here you can learn about the calls of native birds, their adaptations and the restoration of the island. 
  • Download our scavenger hunt and do some detective work on the island.

Night time activities

If you stay overnight, you can explore the island fully. Typically the birds are more active once the crowds leave, so there is a greater chance of catching sight of the less common birds such as kōkako. On the island there are a number of family friendly activities. You can:

  • Look for kiwi pukupuku/little spotted kiwi, korora/little blue penguin or tuatara once the sun goes down.
  • Get up early with the birds and hear their melodious dawn chorus.  
  • Bring your snorkel and mask to look for fish on the eastern side of the island, near Northeast Bay or Wooded Island. If you have limited time, head for the rocks off Hobbs Beach or snorkel out to the small island a couple of hundred metres offshore.
  • Do the three hour loop track that circumnavigates the island, taking in views of Rangitoto, Hauturu and the Coromandel. It is best to take swim gear, beach shoes and sun protection as the trails on the northern end of the island are more exposed.