Did You Know that Hauturu is...


  • One of New Zealand's oldest off-shore island sanctuaries (est. 1895).

  • One of the largest (3083 hectares).

  • Our richest in native species.

  • Volcanic in origin, with rugged, mountainous terrain, rising to 722m above sea-level (Mt Hauturu).

  • Home to a greater number of threatened bird species than any other island in the country.

  • Home to New Zealand's most diverse assemblage of reptiles: tuatara; 12 species of geckos & skinks. Since the eradication of kiore (rats) in 2004, Hauturu tuatara (bred in captivity on the island) are being released into the wild to join the limited few that had previously survived there.

  • Rich in native plants: There are over 400 species, including 34 that are nationally or regionally threatened.

  • The only site in the Auckland region for three nationally threatened plants: giant-flowered broom, red mistletoe, and Dactylanthus taylorii, the parasitic pua o te reinga (“the flower of the underworld”), also known as the wood rose.

  • The site of the largest natural populations in the Auckland region of shore spurge (Euphorbia glauca), which is declining nationally. The only other site is Motukorea/Brown's Island, where restoration is underway from the one plant that remained.

  • Vulnerable to exotic plant pests which can overwhelm native plant species. The two major threats on the island are: climbing asparagus and pampas grass. Mexican devil and mistflower are also present.

  • Home to the only self-sustaining population of the unique hihi (stitchbird). It provides the platform for this species’ recovery through reintroduction to other safe islands, and to protected mainland habitats.

  • Home to two giant invertebrates:

    • New Zealand's largest earthworm (up to 1.4 m)

    • The wetapunga (Deinacrida heteracantha), a giant weta, which is our heaviest recorded insect (max. 71g - the weight of an average blackbird). There was a 100% increase in numbers after kiore eradication. Hauturu remains the stronghold of this species, and a restoration programme is successfully reintroducing it to other Hauraki Gulf Islands. Off-site captive-breeding, initiated in 2008 at Butterfly Creek, produces offspring for these releases, with a second captive-breeding colony set up at Auckland Zoo in 2012.

  • One of the few remaining sites where both species of native bat (short- and long-tailed) are present. The short-tailed bat is a key pollinator of Dactylanthus taylorii, the parasitic pua o te reinga (“the flower of the underworld”), also known as the wood rose.

  • Cat free. This was declared in 1981, after a vigorous and innovative eradication programme. As a result:

    • For nearly two decades, from 1982 to 1999, Hauturu was became a safe haven for up to 23 kakapo (the “night parrot”), which was close to 50% of the remaining kakapo, the world's most endangered parrot. They had been moved mostly from Stewart Island to protect them from cat predation. However, due to the large size and rugged terrain of Hauturu, the intensive management (including supplementary feeding and protecting chicks from rats) required at the time for their recovery, was very difficult to achieve and they were transferred to Whenua Hou / Codfish Island in the late 1990s. The birds also needed to be removed prior to the rat eradication in 2004. In 1999 Lisa, who had initially eluded transfer, was found on a nest. All three eggs were fertile and produced female chicks, a major boost to the recovery programme at that time.

      In April 2012, seven birds were reintroduced to Hauturu from Codfish and Anchor Islands. Four of the birds had previously lived on the island: Ox, a male aged 30-plus years, lived on Hauturu for 17 years until 1999; Merty, another male aged 30-plus years, lived on Hauturu for 16 years until 1998; Flossie, a female aged 36-plus years, lived on Hauturu for 14 years until 1996, and her 31-year-old daughter, Heather, lived on Hauturu until 1998. New to the island were Tiwai, a 15-year-old male, Doc, a 10-year-old male, and Hananui, a 10-year-old female. Two more male kakapo were transferred onto the island in October 2013 - Jester and Dobbie (a member of the group of kakapo resident on Hauturu which were taken off the island in the late 1990s). Hauturu and Codfish Island are the only two large islands in New Zealand which are suitable for kakapo breeding and which are beyond the natural dispersal ability of predators such as stoats, cats and rats. Therefore these two islands offer kakapo long-term security. The release of nine birds on Hauturu is a trial to determine whether they can breed on their own without supplementary feeding, now that rats are no longer present on Hauturu and there will be no more chick predation and a better food source available for chicks. The nine birds are monitored, but are not actively managed.

    • Vulnerable species such as tieke (saddleback) were re-established and have flourished.

  • Rat free. This was declared in June 2006. Eradication of kiore (Rattus exulans) was carried out in 2004. A final island-wide survey in 2006 confirmed its success.

  • Free of all mammalian predators. Only two ever became established on the island: kiore and feral cats.

  • The only known breeding ground in the world for the critically endangered New Zealand storm petrel, rediscovered at sea in the Hauraki Gulf in 2003 after 108 years of presumed extinction. The species’ breeding site was revealed spectacularly on Hauturu-o-Toi in 2013 when radio-tagged birds, caught at sea, were tracked to breeding burrows.

  • The world’s largest breeding ground of Cook's petrel, estimated at >30,000 pairs. Breeding success had fallen as low as 5% prior to kiore eradication. 2005, the year after kiore eradication, saw an immediate increase in productivity and in 2006 breeding success was recorded at a remarkable 82%. There have been recent translocations of this species to sanctuaries at Cape Kidnappers and Boundary Stream.

    • The Aotea / Great Barrier Island population, was fewer than ten pairs in the 1990’s. Recent breeding burrows found at the pest-controlled Glen Fern Sanctuary give hope for a recovery of this population.

    • Whenua Hou/Codfish Island, predator free since 1998, has 5000 pairs and is recovering dramatically.

    • A recent genetic study indicates that the Hauturu-o-Toi and Whenua Hou Cook’s petrel populations are isolated and distinct.

  • One of the two breeding grounds of the rare, and larger, black petrel - estimated at 200 pairs. Aotea / Great Barrier Island has approximately 1300 breeding pairs. Recent data suggest deaths from fisheries’ bycatch in the Hauraki Gulf are driving the species towards extinction.

  • A reservoir of numerous indigenous birds that face an uncertain future on the mainland: kiwi, kokako, kaka, kakariki, kereru, korimako, popokatea . . . and so on.

  • Vulnerable to human impact which is kept to a minimum. Visitor numbers and movements are strictly regulated. Landing on Hauturu is by Department of Conservation permit only. Contact the Trust about working visits.

Did you know?
Hauturu is described as "the most intact ecosystem in New Zealand". Its biodiversity makes it one of the most important nature reserves in the world.