New monitoring reports published

Date posted: 19-Jul-2018

Reports on monitoring studies carried out over the past year have now been poste..

2018 Concert coming up soon

Date posted: 15-Feb-2018

Our 2018 concert will feature an afternoon of light classics and jazz courtesy of the Auckland Ph..

Wetapunga talk coming soon

Date posted: 05-Feb-2018

For the Social on 19 March the speaker will be Ben Goodwin of Auckland Zoo, who will talk about t..

Rat caught and now takahe released from pens

Date posted: 28-Jan-2018

Thankfully DOC staff Andre de Graaf and Polly Hall and their assistants have trapped the rat whic..

Your Christmas Shopping for a Song

Date posted: 04-Dec-2017

Aka - The Grand Christmas Shopping Expedition to Tiritiri Matangi Island Shop Dreading..

2018 Photo Comp opens for entries

Date posted: 27-Nov-2017

The 2018 Photo Competition is now open for entries. Click here (/2018-photo-competition-tiritiri-mat..

New reports on ruru nesting and Island conservation

Date posted: 02-Oct-2017

Two new reports have been added to the website. The first gives details of a summer students..

2018 calendars now available

Date posted: 27-Sep-2017

Our latest calendar, beautifully illustrated with images taken on the Island, is now available fo..

Guided walks for photographers

Date posted: 21-Jun-2017

For a wonderful day of wildlife photography please join us on Tiritiri Matangi Island for a Ph..

Ferry discounts for Supporters

Date posted: 18-May-2017

Tiritiri Matangi Island, the perfect winter's day trip. The birds are at their best, warm up w..


Scientific name:

 Morus serrator

Maori Name:




Conservation status:

 Not threatened

Mainland status:

 Locally common 


 89cm, 2.3kg


 Oldest recorded over 30 years


 July - January


 Small fish and squid

The Australasian gannet is a large seabird of about 89cm in length and weighing nearly 2.5 kg. It is mainly white, with a buff yellow head, and black trailing edges to its wings; the central tail feathers are also black. The juvenile is  spotted above (grey/brown) with brownish streaks below. The adult plumage takes about three years to develop.

Gannets feed mainly on small fish and some squid taken from deep waters or harbours and estuaries. They dive vertically from heights of up to 30m, entering the water at tremendous speed. They have inflatable air sacs beneath the skin on the lower neck and breast that act as shock absorbers as they enter the water.

Gannets range widely in NZ seas during winter but return to their breeding sites around June/July. The nests are made within close proximity of other nests, out of seaweed and guano. They usually lay just one egg, incubated for 44 days by both sexes. The chicks fledge at between 13 and 17 weeks old, when they fly across the Tasman Sea to Australian waters. They remain there until they reach breeding age at between three and seven years old (usually five), when they return to their breeding colonies to breed for the first time. There is a lot of chattering in a gannet colony, but away from the breeding site the birds are normally silent. Muriwai, on the west coast near Auckland, is the mainland colony closest to Tiritiri Matangi. Pairs can stay together for several years.

On Tiritiri Matangi gannets can often be seen from the wharf area and from the East Coast Track, diving for food in the waters close to the Island. From 2011, efforts have been made to attract gannets to Motuora Island, north of Tiritiri Matangi. Breeding was first attempted there in 2013. 

Learn more about the Australian gannet at New Zealand Birds Online.

 Photography by: Peter Craw ©(left) and by Dr Kerry Rodgers © (right)

References: Heather, B.D.; Robertson, H.A. 2000 The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. Auckland, Viking.