Category Archives: Hauraki Gulf conservation

Hauraki Gulf Dolphins

There are two species of dolphin resident in the Hauraki Gulf, the larger bottlenose dolphin and the smaller common dolphin. Bottlenose dolphins live up to around 50 years of age and they grow between 2 and 4 metres long. We still know very little about them but they appear to be using the Hauraki Gulf as a nursery area to bring up their young. The population is considered to be endangered so it is important that we look after these highly intelligent, fascinating animals.

If you want to learn more about dolphins in New Zealand and our interactions with them “Dolphins of Aotearoa makes a fascinating read.

Bottlenose dolphins
Bottlenose dolphins use the Hauraki Gulf all year round and most pods include calves or juvenile dolphins.

Common dolphins are not considered to be endangered but anecdotally there are far fewer in the Hauraki Gulf than in the past. They are commonly sighted in large pods around ‘boil ups’ of fish and will play in the bow waves of boats travelling past.

The Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari take people out to see dolphins,  whales and seabirds most days. They have kindly made available some stunning images of Humpback and Bryde’s Whales, Orca and Common and Bottlenose Dolphins for reproduction in The Story of the Hauraki Gulf.

Watching these extraordinary animals in their natural environment, on the very door step of Auckland, is a very thrilling experience.

Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari Hauraki Gulf
A trip out on the Hauraki Gulf to see the whales, dolphins and seabirds can be an exhilarating experience close to Auckland.











Tiritiri Matangi a Restoration Success Story

Tiritiri Matangi Island lighthouse
The Tiritiri Matangi lighthouse was the first to operate in the Hauraki Gulf and was lit on 1 January 1865. The lighthouse was designed to provide assistance to vessels arriving into Auckland at night.

The restoration of Tiritiri Matangi Island is a wonderful success. The restoration project was initiated by the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park Board. It was the first time that public volunteers were used for island conservation in New Zealand and many thought that the approach would not work, that you could only have a successful nature reserve if the public was not allowed to go there.

The planting programme started in 1984. Members of the public were invited to come and help. Over  a decade later over 250,000 native trees had been planted. Eleven bird species how now been translocated back to the island.

Tiritiri Matangi is ecologically important, not only as a site where wildlife can thrive, but as a breeding ground for rare species that can be transferred to other islands. It has also become a very popular place for visitors. But perhaps even more importantly, the project provided inspiration for other island restoration projects, in the Hauraki Gulf and elsewhere.

Tiritiri Matangi tourists arriving on Fullers ferry
Over 33,000 people visit Tiritiri Matangi Island each year. Shown here are a group of tourists who have just been dropped off by the Fullers ferry for the day.


Hauraki Gulf book in Best Books of 2016

The Story of the Hauraki Gulf features in the Listener’s Best 100 Books of 2016 and in the New Zealand Herald’s Best Books of 2016.

“It’s big, beautifully illustrated, packed with information about pretty much every aspect of the gulf, from the early Polynesian navigators who first found it to the environmental activists involved in repairing the damage done by centuries of settlement, and perhaps best of all it is full of personal stories about the individuals involved in its multi-faceted history. This is a book that, like the gulf itself, is surely destined to endure.” Jim Eagles, NZ Herald. Read full review.

“With its lovely maps and photos and prose as clear as glass, the book just kept opening up. This is a wonderful book.”  Geoff Chapple, NZ Listener. Read full review.

“This is a beautiful tribute to a stunning part of New Zealand, and one that we should all have on our shelves.” Boat Books

Story of the Hauraki Gulf 2016 cover
Cover of forthcoming book ‘The Story of the Hauraki Gulf’ showing (top) Tiritiri Matangi wharf, (left) Bean Rock Lighthouse and (right) Classic yachts Ngatira (B2) and Waitangi (A6) racing in the Waitemata Harbour.

The Story of the Hauraki Gulf is a social, cultural and environmental celebration of an extraordinary place. It brings together the many fascinating strands of history to provide a rich insight into the Gulf today and its possible future.

“I hope that the stories in this book will prompt readers to recall their own species stories of the Hauraki Gulf, and of other treasured locations. Because it is only if we remember our stories, if we tell our stories and if we act on them that we can ensure that out special places will endure.”


The book, authored by Raewyn Peart from the Environmental Defence Society and published by David Bateman Ltd, is printed in high quality coffee table format with over 300 historic and contemporary images. The wonderful photos of the Hauraki Gulf highlight what an extraordinary place it is.

Classic Yacht Thelma in 2013 Auckland anniversary regatta
Classic yacht Thelma competing in the 2013 Auckland Anniversary Regatta.