Being a guide on Tiritiri Matangi Island

Author: Bob BickerDate: 17th October 2023

School in Southampton included sport. I would be told tomorrow we’re going to The Common, a large, forested area with sports fields, reason? to play cricket, the very word made me yawn. They’d put me in a fielding position, the ball would whistle by, I was oblivious to it as I’d be looking the other way, watching squirrels, birds and occasionally a fox. How nature worked fascinated me then, nothing’s changed.


A few years later I found myself in Alderney for ten years, the northern most of the Channel Islands. One job I had there was crew on a lobster boat pulling the pots. Just north of the island was a small islet, Burhou which in the season had Puffins. I’d say to the skipper ‘ can we land there ’, seeing these fed my passion. By default, I became the person who you took injured birds to. Locals would knock on the door to hand me a wounded Cormorant, Razorbill or Guillemot. I had scant knowledge of how to help these creatures but did have a reasonable degree of success, one I’m still proud of.


Go forward a few years and I’m on a ferry approaching Tiritiri Matangi to learn how to guide and then hopefully impart knowledge to our visitors of our flora and fauna and how it works and importantly how we need it. I had scant idea of the steep learning curve I was about to embark on. Many of those involved in the island are what one would deem as academics, highly qualified in their field, their vital input to a large degree is behind the scenes. With 5 times round as a buddy guide, I went solo. Having no qualifications in relevant fields, my challenge was to glean facts and figures from those experienced and seek to present that  in layman’s terms; this is ongoing. Apart from the knowledge, it’s vital to develop one’s own style, a mantra from the guides who taught me, never a truer word spoken. I showcase what others have created, something I do with pride.



One of our most popular volunteer opportunities is guiding. Guides must undertake at least six buddy training sessions before they become a fully-fledged guide. Although this position is well suited to someone with experience in the conservation field, passionate volunteers with reasonable fitness levels are most welcome to sign up, as full training, ongoing support and development is provided.