Bird Watching

The Ruakaka River Mouth is a breeding area for New Zealand Dotterel and Variable Oyster Catchers. It is also a regular roosting spot for the Godwit & Knott when the Whangarei Harbour experiences very high tides.

There are also Wildlife Refuges:

  • The Waipu river mouth and estuary has international significance as a nesting or roosting area for New Zealand Dotterel, Variable Oyster Catcher and New Zealand Fairy Tern. Reef Heron, Ryebill, Caspian Tern and Banded Dotterel also nest in and visit the area; and all are protected, rare or threatened species. You can reach the river mouth and estuary by walking North along the beach from Waipu Cove; or drive for five minutes to Johnson’s Point, which is at the centre of the Waipu Wildlife Reserve on the Estuary side.
  • In Mangawhai, 50 minutes’ South of Ruakaka, where the sand dunes are an internationally-recognized wildlife refuge for four species of threatened birds – the Fairy Tern, Banded Dotterel, Variable Oystercatcher and Caspian-Tern.

Please take extra care in these areas during the summer nesting season, as many of these rare birds next directly on the sand and their eggs are very difficult to see. In addition, if you disturb a nest, the adult birds may not return, resulting in the eggs not hatching or chicks dying.