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Great Barrier Island (reviews, reports)

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Brown Teal
Photo provided by:
Gregory Ohrenberg

Reviews & trip reports

Brown Teal may be one of the rarest ducks in the world, but you would not know it on Great Barrier Island. We saw them on every beach with a river running through it. You cannot see them outside New Zealand and are not very likely to see them anywhere but the Barrier.

Endangered New Zealand Dotterels were more difficult to find. We finally spotted one in Tryphaena on our way to the ferry to leave the island. We saw eight species endemic to New Zealand on the island, and two more on the ferry traveling the Hauraki Gulf to get there and back. Altogether we identified 34 species on the three-day trip during April 2010. We might have seen more if we had spent more time on the coasts. Our walking trips in the interior of the island were generally disappointing for birds, although rewarding for scenery and great views.

We had good off-season rates on accomodation and we often had the beach to ourselves. We recommend the car ferry over the passenger-only ferry, because it travels more slowly and gives you more time to identify a seabird before it is out of range. Why be in a hurry when there are birds to watch? We saw our first shearwaters and petrels of any kind that way, including the endemic Buller’s and Fluttering Shearwaters.

Other endemics we saw on the island were Variable Oystercatchers, New Zealand Pigeons, Paradise Ducks, Tuis, and a Kaka. Probably our most surprising find was a Black-fronted Tern—normally a South Island species. We are very glad that we made a trip to the Barrier part of our first New Zealand experience. We hope it will not be our last.

Gregory & Rondy Ohrenberg,

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(page last updated  16 July, 2011)