You can see rare native birds up close at Tiritiri Matangi, a bird sanctuary open to the public and accessible by ferry from Auckland or Gulf Harbour on the Whangaparoa Peninsula. Gentle, well-maintained, signposted trails lead to the top of the island and the oldest lighthouse in the gulf, still in operation. The island is free from predators, and the birds are unafraid. Tiritiri is home to at least 18 takahe, large blue-and-green flightless birds with red beaks.
You can usually spot them eating grass near the lighthouse. The grave of Mr. Blue, the hand-reared male of the first pair on the island, is marked by a plaque at his favorite spot near the lighthouse.