Melodic bellbirds, bright green kakariki and cheeky kaka could be popping into city slickers’ backyards if a mainland bird sanctuary succeeds north of Auckland.
The native birds are expected to thrive after the Auckland Regional Council fences a 555ha wildlife sanctuary on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula at the end of this year.
Although there are other “mainland island” sanctuaries for wildlife, this will be the closest to Auckland – 40 minutes by car or a bus trip from the central city.
ARC open sanctuary co-ordinator Matt Maitland said it would be the most popular sanctuary yet, following successful “mainland islands” in Wellington, Dunedin, Maungatautari and Tawharanui.
The plan is to fence off Shakespear Regional Park at the tip of the peninsula and then poison predators in the park.
It is hoped bellbirds and kakariki will move along the peninsula to suburban areas, while land-lubbers like kiwi and takahe will have a safe home close to Auckland.
Each year, about 20,000 people make the ferry trip from Auckland to Tiritiri Matangi, a thriving island bird sanctuary 4km off the peninsula. But although kakariki and bellbirds make the journey the other way to the park, weasels and rats make it hard for them to breed.
Mr Maitland said the bird populations would explode once the predators were gone. By the end of the first summer, they would be flying down the peninsula towards Auckland. Once pests had been killed, flightless birds such as kiwi would be given a helping hand to the park by conservation workers.