Muriwai Gannet Colony – Muriwai, New Zealand - Atlas Obscura

Muriwai, New Zealand

Muriwai Gannet Colony

New Zealand's west coast is one of the best places in the world to view these large seabirds. 

Hang on to your hairpiece because the winds at Muriwai will send whatever isn’t secure into flight, just like the thousands of Tākapu, or Australasian gannets, who gather to breed on the spectacular costal platforms of this west coast beach. 

Tākapu is the Māori name for these southern seabirds, which are native to New Zealand and known to mate for life. The female lays one single pale blue egg, and co-parents with her partner, taking turns at hatching, sheltering and feeding their juvenile.  

In its fourth month, the young Tākapu embarks on a 1,700-mile journey across the Tasman Sea to the east coast of Australia. The journey takes anywhere from 8 to 14 days and is repeated four years later when the birds return to New Zealand to breed.   

Once back in New Zealand, the adult birds won’t usually migrate again. They spend spring and summer at the breeding colony and during the winter months disperse to local coastal waters. Breeding takes place anytime between mid-September until mid-December. By March or April, the feathered fledgelings are ready to migrate. 

Know Before You Go

Muriwai is located an hour from Auckland Airport (depending on traffic)