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..

Reef Heron

Scientific name:

 Egretta sacra sacra

Maori Name:




Conservation status

 Threatened, Nationally endangered

Mainland status:

 Most common in Northland, decreasing southward


 66cm, 400g 


 14 years


 September - January


 Small fish, crabs and molluscs

Reef heron - photographer: Ian SoutheyThe reef heron occurs in grey and white forms, but only the grey phase occurs in New Zealand. This slate-grey heron has a long heavy horn-coloured to yellowish bill and short yellow-green legs. In the breeding season, long plumes form on the neck and back.  The call is a guttural croak when disturbed or at the nest.

The Reef Heron eats mainly small fish, including eels and flounder, crabs and molluscs caught along rocky shores and tidal inlets where they live.

Breeding takes place between September and January. The nest, which is a platform of sticks and twigs, is built on rock ledges in caves or rock crevices, in clumps of flax or among the roots of pohutukawa. The two to four pale turquoise coloured eggs are incubated by both sexes for 25-28 days. Chicks fledge when 5-6 weeks old.

Reef Heron are decreasing in numbers due to increased human disturbance on the coast.  They are seen on the rocks around Tiritiri and have been known to nest on the Island, including the 2013-2014 season when two chicks were raised.

Learn more about the reef heron at New Zealand Birds Online.

Reef heron - photographer: Kerry Rodgers

Photography by:  Ian Southey © (right) and Dr Kerry Rodgers © (left)

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