Tuff Crater Restoration Project

North Shore Forest & Bird’s flagship project “The Tuff Crater Restoration Project” surrounds an extinct volcano in Northcote. Adjoining the northern motorway, it’s highly visible as residents travel over the harbour bridge, commuting to and from the city. The project commenced in 2000 with the planting of the Millennium Forest and has continued with major pest plant control, planting and predator control since then.

Volunteering at Tuff Crater

A big “thankyou” to the large number of volunteers who contribute to the project in so many ways, without their hard work and enthusiasm the “Tuff Crater Restoration Project” would still be an impossible dream.

We run volunteering events every Thursday morning. To join this team please contact Anne Denny - annedenny@xtra.co.nz

And on the second Saturday of each month. See our Events diary here for details

To be on our email list for Saturday events please Sign up to receive notification of Tuff Crater events

Join our Facebook group

Our Vision for Tuff Crater  

“Tuff Crater reserve is a fine example of a carefully restored natural area. The restoration is led by North Shore Forest and Bird, who are involving the wider community. Invasive weeds are reduced to manageable levels, and effective predator control is helping wildlife to thrive. Expert input is helping to raise awareness of the local ecology. An all weather circuit track allows year round walking, vehicle access for weed control and planting. A pedestrian bridge across the estuary enhances the walking experience”

Tuff Crater - a record of progress

Overview video

View a 3 minute video about the Tuff Crater restoration with Branch Chair & Project Leader Richard Hursthouse. 

See our photopoint progress photos on Naturespace


We had two huge planting days in June and July, planting near Arahia St and what was once a bank covered in Arundo grass.

Photos June 2017 and July 2017


Our major planting area was the area between St Peters St and Bayleys Reserve on the southwest side. Some willows were removed from this area before our planting days. See the photos of our planting days on 11th June 2016. and 9th July 2016


Volunteers being shown how to plant, Tuff Crater June 2012

See photos of our huge planting day at St Peters St 9 May 2015. We made big inroads into the two large areas of bamboo north and south of St Peters St as well as continuing to make a hole in the elaeagnus on the cliffs of tanks 1 and 2.






One of our fantastic seats (photo R Hursthouse)

One of our fantastic seats (photo R Hursthouse)

We installed three benches and two leaners and a new track from Warehouse way to the top of the zig zag track with financial support of North Harbour Rotary, ASB Community Trust, Kaipatiki Local Board and Lion Foundation. You can see images of the work here. The view from the seat at the top of the hill below Canon looking towards town is one of the best.

We have completed our planting program for the year with 700 plants supplied by council planted at Heath Reserve. Forest & Bird has funded another 1400 plants, grown with love and care by the wonderful volunteers at Kaipatiki Project

For photos of planting at Heath Reserve and South side see 15 June 2014  North side and seat ceremony 12 July 2014



Golden Spade Award for Tuff Crater 

North Shore committee members presented with the Golden Spade at F&B conference

North Shore committee members presented with the Golden Spade at F&B conference

This award was presented to Forest & Bird North Shore branch representatives Richard Hursthouse, Anne Denny and Claire Stevens by Forest & Bird President Barry Wards at the organisation’s annual 2011 conference in Wellington. Richard Hursthouse, the chairman of the branch and one of the leaders of the restoration project says the project is heavily reliant on the support of the community and funders. “With a project like this we are totally reliant on funding,






Predator Control

We have a volunteer-driven pest control program at the reserve. We now have a network of 55 rat bait stations around the reserve monitored by 6 keen volunteers as well as some possum and stoat traps. The gear and bait is provided with the support of Auckland Council. We now also have 5 "halo" baitlines in private land around the crater. 

Our network of monitoring tunnels indicated significant rat levels prior to predator control. Rats eat  birds, eggs, chicks and also the food which birds and lizards eat. They are significant predators and competitors and controlling them is a high priority. Monitoring indicates a dramatic drop in rat levels at Tuff Crater.

Full baiting initiated - 13/08/2013. This graph shows our monitoring results at Tuff Crater. 

Map of Tuff Crater

This map contains lots of information about what is happening where with the restoration project  Link to Google map

Walking Track upgrade

Our branch raised funds and arranged a major upgrade of the track around the crater to allow access for recreation, planting and weed control. We have completed 805 metres of track upgrade, constructed  wooden steps linking the northern slope down to the lower walkway, the 100m zigzag track and a connection out to Warehouse Way between Northbridge and Haydn & Rollett.Tuff Crater walking track


We would like to see a connection between the Millennium Forest and Heath Reserve to enable a walking circuit around the entire crater.  We see this as a small part of a North/South walk cycle route we are calling Naturepath. See here for more info. NZTA are developing options for a connection along this route.


Kingfisher (Photo: Philip Moll)

Kingfisher (Photo: Philip Moll)

The iconic bird of the crater is the kotare (kingfisher), which is seen on every visit. 

We have people monitoring the bird life, lizards, invertebrates and rodents. We also monitor weeds and native regeneration using photo point monitoring. 

Ideally we would like to see monitoring of the estuarine habitat as well including fish and benthic life.


Birds of Tuff Crater PDF
Native plants of Tuff Crater PDF
Invasive/naturalising plants of Tuff Crater PDF


Tuff Crater Insect Survey 

The Auckland Entomological Society had a field trip to Tuff Crater in 2013. See the list of invertebrates found during their visit and the plants they were found upon.

Butterflies at Tuff Crater

We have several native butterflies at Tuff. Copper butterflies feed on the muehlenbeckia on the south side. Blue butterflies are also present feeding on wildflowers among other things. There is scope for encouraging Red Admiral butterflies by planting native nettles. See ecologist Carol Bergquist's butterfly reportWe have set aside an area on the southern side to encourage native butterflies. This area won’t be mown but left in a natural state. 


Tuff Crater is one of several explosion craters in the Auckland area, breached by the sea it is now a mangrove estuary. The northern rim was extensively modified during World War 2 when the Americans excavated and started but never finished building fuel tanks. Some of the concrete bases of these tanks still exist. Steep tuff cliffs exist on the north and south sides.

Geology of Tank Farm Volcano


Read research on the fuel tanks at Tuff Crater from Navy museum:

Archaeology Report 2001 1 PDF
Archaeology Report 2001 2 PDF
Archaeology Map JPG
Birkenhead Historical Society. (2006). Members Stories: The Northcote Fuel Tank Farm to 1989. Speech given to the Birkenhead Historical Society 13 May 2006

Volunteers Tuff Crater (photo P Moll)