Matuku Reserve, Auckland

North Island Tomtit, photo Eric Wilson

North Island Tomtit, photo Eric Wilson

The locals: Matuku (bittern), fernbird, spotless crake, black swan, pukeko, tui, kereru, tomtit, koura, native eels, banded kokopu.

Walking tracks: Three walking tracks in the reserve form loops that vary in length from one to three hours. Please note: the tracks are mostly on a slope, with a couple of short steep sections.

Getting there: After Swanson take right fork into Waitakere Road (not up Scenic Drive), up over hill, down past Waitakere village and turn left after passing over railway. Very shortly pass the school on the left, and very soon after take right fork into Wairere Road.

Drive about 5.5 km on Wairere, ignoring side roads until finally turning left into unsealed Jonkers Road. At one kilometre along this road go left into narrow Snows Lane at the Forest & Bird sign. One kilometre down this lane pass viewing platform and entrance, and reach car park 100 metres further on.

There is space for 10 cars only here, so groups should consider carpooling. (There is no access to the reserve from Bethells Road.)

Facilities: 200 metres in from the main entrance is a shelter with information and display, water supply, picnic table with seats, and NZ's funniest dunny.

Situated in the hills behind Bethell’s beach, this forest and wetland sanctuary is Forest & Bird’s second-largest reserve occupying a total of 120 hectares. The larger part of the reserve is native forest which is best described as coastally influenced lowland broadleaf forest, with emergent tanekaha and kauri on ridges. Dense with fruiting & flowering species such as puriri, karaka, nikau, rewarewa, kowhai, pigeonwood and mahoe, the forest is a good food source for the thriving tui & kereru populations. In all, over 250 plant species have been recorded in the forest, from perching lilies and orchids to a luxuriant carpet of ferns & sedges that covers the forest floor.

At the base of these slopes is the reserve’s 20 hectare wetland, part of the wider Te Henga Wetland, the largest relatively unmodified freshwater marshland in the Auckland region. An un-signposted 60 metre boardwalk allows informed members to experience the dense wetland vegetation and perhaps see some of its birdlife such as fernbird, pukeko, black swan, and mallard.

Having acquired the reserve in 1979, the Waitakere Branch is now beginning to see how well the forest is responding to several years of pest control, with a surge in the number of tomtits, fantails, tui and kereru. Most surprising however has been the boom in the insect population, with large invertebrates such as cave weta thriving in these parts. Indeed, in recent years several major entomological discoveries have been made in this reserve, making Matuku a rewarding scientific field for entomologists.

For a full description of Matuku Reserve, by honorary ranger John Staniland, click here.

For "New developments and Plans for the Wetland" by Wetland Committee chairman J.Sumich click here.