Shakespear Open Sanctuary
Size: 258 hectares
Shakespear Open Sanctuary is one of Auckland’s most visited nature reserves. It is situated on the headland at the eastern end of the Whangaparāoa Peninsula. It includes most of Shakespear Regional Park and the New Zealand Defence Force land at the end of the peninsula.
The Open Sanctuary was established in 2010 with the construction of a predator-proof fence across the peninsula and the subsequent removal of pest animal species. It is connected to the urban part of the Whangaparāoa Peninsula by a narrow, low-lying isthmus between Army and Okoromai Bays. It provides a valuable ecological linkage between the Auckland mainland and Tiritiri Matangi Island.
Parts of the regional parkland within Shakespear Open Sanctuary are still farmed. Gullies, wetlands, remnant vegetation and native restoration plantings are fenced off and protected from livestock access.
Native vegetation within this biodiversity focus area includes:
- mature coastal forest (WF4) remnants in gullies
- pōhutukawa treeland, flaxland and rockland (CL1) on the headland’s steep sedimentary cliffs
- areas of regenerating shrubland (VS3), particularly on the northern side of the headland
- freshwater wetlands dominated either by raupō reedland (WL19) or Machaerina sedgeland (WL11)
- saltmarsh (SA1) has regenerated within the lowest-lying parts of the isthmus following the restoration of water levels.
Protected within Shakespear Open Sanctuary is a diverse range of native birds. Common forest bird species include:
- pīwakawaka (fantail)
- riroriro (grey warbler)
- tauhou (silvereye).
Korimako (bellbird) and kākāriki have both self-introduced from nearby Tiritiri Matangi Island and are now breeding successfully within the sanctuary. Kākā are occasional visitors.
Wetland birds present include:
- pūweto (spotless crake)
- mātātā (fernbird)
- poaka (pied stilt)
- mioweka (banded rail).
Tūturiwhatu (New Zealand dotterel) and tōrea pango (variable oystercatcher) nest within the sanctuary. Many other shorebird species utilise the intertidal flats of Okoromai Bay for foraging.
Since becoming pest-free, certain species have been able to be reintroduced to the sanctuary and are establishing. These include:
- pōpokatea (whitehead)
- toutouwai (North Island robin)
- tīeke (North Island saddleback)
- kiwi pukupuku (little spotted kiwi).
Small populations of seabirds are starting to reestablish, including:
- kororā (little penguin)
- ōi (grey-faced petrel)
- pakahā (fluttering shearwater)
- kuaka (diving petrel).
Many species of native skink and gecko are naturally present here. The lizard diversity is high for the mainland of Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland.
Large areas of the parkland have been restored through native plantings. Seed is collected locally and raised in an onsite nursery run by Shakespear Open Sanctuary volunteers. These volunteers are involved in a wide range of conservation activities across the sanctuary.
Pōhutukawa treeland, flaxland and rockland ecosystem (CL1)
This ecosystem occurs on coastal rock faces and eroding hill-slopes around the Auckland coastline and on offshore islands. It contains a mosaic of different plant communities including herbs, flax, shrubs and trees.
Coastal saline ecosystem
Mangrove forest and scrub ecosystem (SA1)
Mangrove forest and scrub is found in tidal estuaries, inlets and where salt water meets fresh at the mouths of rivers and streams. This ecosystem has a range of distinct plant communities that provide habitat for birds and fish.
Mānuka, kānuka scrub ecosystem (VS3)
This ecosystem is abundant in the Waitākere Ranges and on Great Barrier Island. It establishes after disturbance events, such as fires. It occurs across a wide range of soils, altitudes and latitudes and provides habitat for many native fauna.
Broadleaved species scrub and forest ecosystem (VS5)
This ecosystem can be found in semi-dry areas on low fertility slopes throughout New Zealand. In Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland, it is mostly found on south-facing slopes in the south.
Warm forest ecosystem
Pōhutukawa, pūriri, broadleaved forest ecosystem (WF4)
Scattered along Auckland's coastlines, this broadleaved forest ecosystem provides an important source of food for kererū. They are also important seed dispersers for many species in this ecosystem.