Takapu Refuge Walk, Muriwai, New Zealand
+64 9 979 7070
NileGuide Expert tip:
The colony is at its peak for activity between August and March and will provide the best viewing.
There are many things to admire about the Gannet Colony at Muriwai beach. First, it's the breathtaking scenery. As you look down the black sand beach with the surf smashing into the rocks and spilling over on to the beach, you think it goes on forever. It actually extends 60 kilometers to the North. Moving toward the colony, you will see an almost 90 degree angle of an island. When you get used to the scenery, it's the bird's themselves. They arrive there amidst the chaos. There are estimated to be 1,200 of the birds weighing in at 2.5 kg's each fighting for space on the island. They nest just centimeters apart and lay one egg. The Parents take turns on the nest adding to the chaos (each has a wingspan of almost 2 meters). The chicks hatch and begin the process of getting feathers on their wings. They are destined for a one-shot take off (miss it and you fall into the ocean) that will lead them on an adventure that will see them cross the Tasman to Australia. The survivors will return a few years later to the site and repeat the process. The colony is an hour's drive from Auckland. It is well signposted (head to Muriwai Beach) and provides parking. Once parked, you follow the walking track around to the viewing areas. There are some great insights on the signs so go ahead and take the time to read about your fellow winged travelers.