Often one of the highlights of the West Auckland Tours is a visit to the Muriwai Gannet colony. One of only two colonies in New Zealand, each year these majestic birds slowly gather to form a spectacular colony which is perched on the side of a cliff top over looking the Tasman Sea. The New Zealand Department of Conservation spends millions of dollars each year and relies on an army of rangers and volunteers to build and maintain walking tracks and lookouts to enjoy these unique popular observation points.
These birds mate for life and spend around 9 months rearing their young before they dissipate and return to the Southern parts of Australia to wait out the winter. Sometimes a pair might be separated for months at a time and when they return will need to find each other with a complex mix of mating behaviours and calls, no easy task when there are over 3500 birds and they all look the same
With the second largest wingspan after the Albatross, they are a spectacular bird to watch fly
Below them on the beaches is black glistening sand, the result of tens of millions of years of Volcanic activity throughout the North Island. Fine granular Titanomagnetite is a magnetic form or iron sand that is sought after to make steel and extract precious other metals like Titanium.
The fresh sea air from the lookout above the birds and beaches make a great stop to gather your thoughts and get some great photographs after lunch