Hidden wildlife treasures in Auckland

Just before Christmas we stayed at Graham and Anne’s beautiful Airbnb in the Orakei basin. It has beautiful views across the lush green waterway, and is a short walk from a pretty easy trail covering a huge expanse of the basin. The basin lies in Auckland’s volcano ring – but don’t worry, it last erupted 85,000 years ago.

We saw some great wildlife there – my highlights:

1. Majestic cormorants 

Clearly on the look out for fish ripples, these majestic cormorant were stood on tree posts all around the basin. Quiet and calm, before swooping off on to the water to dive and swim for fish. Cormorants are known as ‘shags’ here in NZ and the Orakei basin is home to the pied shag – black and white feathers, and black shags…with, you’ve guessed it, black feathers.




I was pretty excited to get so close to such large numbers of these beautiful birds. It’s really special to see them stand on a branch and fan out their wings to dry in the afternoon sun.

2. Sacred kingfisher

I was amazed to see my first kingfisher hanging out in a garden that borders the basin – but silly me got over excited and underexposed the photos. I was gutted – I have never been so close to a kingfisher – the only other place I’ve seen them was swooping for water in Egypt in 2007. A long time ago, and before I had even picked up my first camera. Luckily for me, I spotted another of these beautiful birds just down the way, and this time managed to get the shots I wanted. Mr Kingfisher was happy to oblige, and I’ve seen several of these bright coloured beauties since, so i’m looking forward to getting some more pictures. 


Kingfishers are well known and loved in New Zealand, thanks to NZ naturalist and ornithologist Geoff Moons fantastic photographic record of the bird. We saw them again on our cycle across Waiheke Island. They seem to be slightly darker in colour than UK kingfishers – not that I’ve ever got that close!

This trip was a great introduction to NZ bird life – and not what I expected from the big city! I was pleasantly surprised to find so much incredible wildlife in the shadow of Auckland’s skyscrapers.

Can’t wait to share more photo’s with you all.

Until the next adventure,


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