Open Sanctuary

It was the last day of winter, a beautiful, sunny, calm day. Perfect for getting out and about with the binoculars and a camera.

Shakespear Regional Park at the end of the Whangaparoa Peninsula is an open sanctuary. Protected behind a predator proof fence, wildlife can thrive in a range of habitats. There are wetlands, forested areas, cleared countryside and coastal habitats. The park is a working sheep and cattle farm. Gully areas of regenerating bush, planted and maintained by DOC and volunteers, are fenced off from livestock giving native species a chance to make a comeback. There are beaches, recreational areas, walking tracks and a camping ground all within driving distance of New Zealand’s largest city. It’s a natural and national treasure.

For those who want to see birds living in cage free habitats, free to move at will between the relative safety of the sanctuary and the more dangerous world of urban sprawl, this is the place to visit.

It’s a great destination for a daytrip. Bring a picnic and spend time at Okoromai Bay exploring the wetlands, or at Te Haruhi Bay where you might enjoy a game of beach cricket or take a wander up to the lookout. You could also join a planting day or become a Junior Ranger.

If you have only a half day the Heritage trail is a wonderful option. The path takes you through waterfall gully and up to the lookout.

If you enjoy the outdoors why not pitch your tent and spend the whole weekend exploring.

To give you some idea of the birds you might see in the park here is the list (in no particular order) of birds we saw.

Pukeko, peafowl, black backed gull, red billed gull, variable oystercatcher, South Island oystercatcher, white-faced heron, pied stilt, little black shag, NZ dotterel, Australian gannet, house sparrow, song thrush, blackbird, myna, magpie, fantail, silvereye, yellowhammer, skylark, grey warbler, welcome swallow, tui, kereru, harrier hawk, rock pigeon, paradise duck, red crowned parakeet, California quail, eastern rosella.

We did not see everything that makes its home here and one day you might be able to see kiwi here.

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