Bird Watching

Bird watching in Mangawhai New Zealand


Mangawhai Estuary is home to New Zealand’s Fairy Tern (Tara-iti)– NZ’s rarest endemic bird.

The new Mangawhai Museum has a display on the shore birds common to the Mangawhai area.

Mangawhai Lodge is an ideal destination for bird watching in New Zealand. We cater for singles, couples or birding groups – choose either stylish B&B rooms or our spacious self catering apartments.

Contact us for prices and accommodation options – tell us of your interest in birdwatching and allow at least a 2 nights stay to ensure your bird watching experience is memorable.

Stay at Mangawhai Lodge to see a wide range of New Zealand bird life:

  • Mangawhai is home to seven threatened and four “at risk” shorebird species.
  • The main breeding site for the NZ Fairy Tern and NZ Dotterel.
  • Several bird species breed and inhabit the Mangawhai Coast with many other breeding sites within 1-2 hours drive.
  • The Caspian Tern, The Northern New Zealand Dotterel, Banded Dotterel, Variable Oystercatcher, South Island Oyster Catcher breed in late spring – early summer in the Mangawhai Estuary.
  • Turnstones and Godwits arrive from Alaska & Siberia late September, leaving late March – early April.
  • A Black Shag colony breed at the far end of Mangawhai’s Cliff Top Walkway.

Birdwatching guests at Mangawhai Lodge have recommended an App called ” Birds in New Zealand”.

The New Zealand Fairy Tern

The Fairy Terns nest in early November and can still be seen feeding around the harbour in February.  

Click here to see a video about the birds

This Fairy Tern nests in 3 areas north of Auckland with Mangawhai being the largest site.

The New Zealand Fairy Tern is New Zealand’s most endangered bird.

Fairy Tern can live for up to 16 years, they start breeding from 2-3 years of age. They differ from New Caledonian and Australian Fairy Terns as they breed in solo pairs, not in colonies.  Introduced predators, easterly storms, cyclones and disturbances during the breeding season by beach users have all impacted on the birds ability to breed successfully.

In the early 1980’s  the number of NZ’s Fairy Terns (Tara iti) dropped to 3 breeding pairs.  Monitoring and capture of predators by the Dept of Conservation staff and volunteers have resulted in numbers increasing to 39 birds (April 2014). The New Zealand Fairy Tern Charitable Trust was formed to assist Fairy Tern Birds survive and prosper.

Image Credit: JJ Harrison / CC-BY-SA-3.0