Getting Here

Glenfern Sanctuary is located on Glenfern Road in Port FitzRoy on the Kotuku Peninsula, on Great Barrier Island.

The island is located just on the outer edge of the Hauraki Gulf, on the top of the North Island of New Zealand.


Whether you decide to travel by sea, air or take advantage of both options, traveling to the island is enjoyable in its self andpart of the experience. In all cases bookings are essential.

Timetables and prices can vary with season and can be weather dependent so always check with the service provider.

Travelling by air:
Provides an incredible bird’s eye view of many of the Hauraki Gulf islands as well as Great Barrier itself.


Great Barrier Airlines provide frequent daily flights to the island. Departure from Auckland, Northshore, Whangarei and Coromandel airports. Phone 0800 900 600


Fly My Sky provide frequent daily flights to the island. Departure from Auckland airport. Phone 0800 222 123

Travelling by sea

Allows you the opportunity to see schools of dolphins and occasionally whales.


Fullers run a boat service to Tryphenaand Port FitzRoy during December and January, the ferry is comfortable and fast. It takes around two hours from Auckland.

Sealink runs a regular service To Tryphena as well as Port Fitzroy on Wednesdays, taking both passengers and vehicles. It takes approximately 4 to 4 1/2 hours. Bookings are essential. We offer complimentary pick-up from Port Fitzroy Wharf which is minutes from our doorstep.

guided walk

Glenfern Trail is a well formed track through native regenerating and old growth forest incorporating a swing bridge into the canopy of a 600 year old kauri tree.

Please email or phone to book a guided tour. We require a minimum of six people and prefer a weeks’ advance notice.

To get the full experience we recommend a guided tour with our environmental scientist in residence. Starting with an interactive presentation in our new interpretation room, she will show you through the sanctuary and you may even learn something along the way!

Along the trail you will;

Be among the 15,000+ trees we have planted here to date

See the best view on the island from “Sunset Rock”

Come face-to-face with a giant weta or two!

Peer into a black petrel burrow and (if they are home) see one of the most endangered birds in the world

Walk into the canopy of a 600 year old kauri tree

Visit our resident brown teal flock in their purpose built pond

Experience native bird-life reinvigorated by years of intense management

Look for native fish and the unfathomably rare chevron skink in the gently flowing streams

Glenfern Trail is about 2 kms long and involves some uphill walking. The Guided Tour takes 2-3 hours to do and a lift to the top of the hill is included so a very low level of fitness is required

Guided Walk $40 per person, minimum of 6. By appointment only, please contact us to make a booking.

There are many other walks that can be done in the neighbouring DoC reserve including day and overnight walks. We offer a cost efficient package tour that incorporates many of these walks complete with track start/end transport and comfortable accommodation at Fitzroy House and Glenfern Cottage within the Sanctuary.

Spring 2012

The intensity of rodent control, particularly over the summer months, raised
the question of the sustainability of the project in the long term. The Glenfern
Sanctuary Board asked Auckland Council Environment to put together a
task force of people involved in pest control to review the Kotuku Restoration
Project with a view to finding a way to achieve effective results with more
economic use of resources. The review was to be wide ranging to include
other potential resources and methods of obtaining them. The first result of
the review produced a new Rat Control Plan based on successful models
in other parts of the region. Largely changing from a trapping to a baiting
regime, this would be an expansion of other rat control projects at Mohunga
and Kaikoura Island. We will commence the new system in September.
Part of the new system will be to run three index lines across the peninsula
and another two outside the Sanctuary area, all of which wiill be monitored
five times a year. While this does not tell us how many rats are on the
peninsula it does provide an indication of density. The Access database will
be modified to report on data collected in the same format as ‘Ark in the
Index lines were monitoired prior to the new baiting regime, and results are
shown in the figure at right.
One of the presentations
at the launch of the State
of the Environment Report
on the Hauraki Gulf at the
Auckland War Memorial
Museum highlighted the
plight of the black petrel.
It seems that despite our
remarkable increase in
nesting sites on Kotuku, the
population that only exists
on Aotea and Hauturu are still in decline, largely due to by-catch on long
lines. There is some hope that new technology currently being developed
may help to reverse this decline. Biz Bell (the scientist monitoring the black
petrels) is attaching transmitters to fledglings to monitor their travels after
hatching and we may get to place some on our birds in the near future.

Summer 2012

A year of wonders.
The sun has come out, there is hardly room to row a dingy across
the harbour, 12 planes a day fly overhead, music and laughter are
audible across the bay at “the boat club” and the Sanctuary is a
buzz of activity of guests, visitors, volunteers and staff.

Summer is here!
So much of what we do each day is “business as usual” that
it’s very gratifying to have so many people come through the
sanctuary at this time of year and either be amazed to see it
for the first time or comment on the progress they have seen
since last time they dropped anchor in the bay.
And when you sit back and take stock at times like this, it
suddenly becomes apparent that quite a lot has happened
since last summer.
What started as a few backpackers planting a couple of trees
on the weekend has culminated into a roster of specifically
skilled volunteers living on site in their own purpose built
The couple of random Brown Teal that would wander up to the
house from time to time is now the Glenfern Pateke Program
with over 30 graduates in the past year and (we just had word)
the green light to expand their habitat and link the two, now
very successful, ponds.
A year ago we would never have thought that we had not only a good population of endangered Black
Petrel but also the elusive Cook’s petrel establishing a colony right in our backyard.
And all this is inextricably linked to the technology that we are now using for finding, monitoring, tracking
and recording everything from mice to kaka. Last December we were looking at the software that is now
so much part of our everyday life and thinking “I wonder how that stuff works?”
But of course retrospect also is a reminder
that we are now one year departed from our
founder and mentor. Tony passed away a year
ago in October, so this summer is a reminder
that we have been helming the ship for him
for over a year now. Hopefully he would be
happy with the course we are heading.


Since the installation of our acoustic attraction
device (to read the full article click here)
we now have a confirmed new Cook’s Petrel
colony within the sanctuary! The birds
are burrowing near the southwest coast of
the peninsula, as seen on our burrow location
After Jo Sim and her amazing burrow locating
hound Maddi sniffed out a multitude of
Cook’s and Black Petrel burrows within the
sanctuary it has been our job to monitor
them. The first task at hand was to determine
the species residing within each burrow. We
decided upon the least intrusive method,
which involved the use of a trail camera
generously provided by forest and bird… This
camera contains new technology and uses
motion sensors heat detectors and infared
lighting to capture images. It was rotated
throughout the sanctuary and set up outside
each burrow to catch the petrels at their late
night entrance and exits.
The job has now turned to monitoring the
petrels breeding success, for which we have
upon our tried and true burrowscope. This
device also involves a camera with infa-red
lighting wired through a three metre long
goose-neck, which is maneuvered through
the winding burrow tunnels. The camera projects
a picture onto a monitor located outside
the burrow and will allow us to verify the
presence of petrel fledglings.

Winter 2013

A special message from Mal Bouzaid, chairperson
of the Glenfern Sanctuary Charitable Trust:
It is with sadness that we announce to you all that the
property known as Fitzroy House is going on the market in
Following Tony’s sudden and unexpected death in late 2011,
my family and I have approached several organisations with
a view to them purchasing the property, and thus continuing
to provide public access, to no avail. Until now we have
allowed unrestricted access to the public over the Fitzroy
House land, in return for a donation towards defraying the
costs of maintaining the land as a sanctuary.
We are very sorry to advise that from 30th September 2013
the property will be closed to the general public. Guests and
all of those who have assisted us with the protected species,
including DoC, OPC, Auckland University and Auckland
Council will still have access by appointment.We would like to take this opportunity to thank Scott and
Emma, the managers, for their professionalism and expertise
over the last 18 months this has been invaluable. Fitzroy
House and Glenfern Cottage are still available for holiday
Mal Bouzaid & Family

Spring 2013

The season of new life has again arrived.
This is the season that we look up and take stock, and this is
the year that we can see the fruits of two decades of hard
The birds are back.
We have not yet started our official annual bird count this year
but no-one who has stood outside Fitzroy House this spring has
failed to comment on it. Not only annual visitors and guests,
but locals who have lived without a morning chorus their
whole life are telling us – things are different now.
Comments like these are just as much music to our ears
as the bird song itself and so too was the inundation of
supportive phone calls and emails we received after the last
newsletter. The response was humbling. So many people
were concerned for the welfare of the sanctuary and, indeed
of us, that it completely sent home how special this place is.
So let us take this opportunity to assure everybody without any
ambivalence whatsoever;
We are the kaitiaki of Kotuku peninsula. This is our duty and
we shall be here for as long as we are needed.

And further to that, given our current situation – we are now
redesigning how the peninsula is managed. The Glenfern
Sanctuary Charitable Trust (as it is presently known) will be
rebranded as the Kotuku Peninsula Charitable Trust.
With the active support of all the landowners of the peninsula
we are taking Tony’s dream into a sustainable, long term
position. We are using the present situation as an opportunity
to formulate a way to make the Kotuku peninsula a safe
haven for native species always – regardless of names on
For everyone of you who receive this newsletter we invite you
to follow the journey with us. We are here for you, the birds,
the lizards and the trees.

Summer 2013

If you build it, they will come….
When Tony first coined the phrase, “creating a safe haven for our native species” he may not have envisioned the
far reaching consequences of his ambition…
Today, as we sit in the office working on the latest newsletter, a bellbird sings
a haunting melody in the fig tree just outside. He (or she) has been hanging
around all week and has got everyone thinking, “Is this the one? Could this
be the bellbird that re-establishes this long lost species on the Barrier?” If the
keen ears of the guests currently staying in Glenfern Cottage are to be trusted,
then the chances are good, as this morning they claim to have heard a reply
– could there be two?

Our fiery apprentice Dana Cook has just rushed into the office with ground
breaking data – she has just recorded the first ever video of a Cook’s Petrel
chick emerging from a burrow on Great Barrier Island. Perhaps they have
been trying for years for a safe place to raise their young, but this is the first
time a human has witnessed one succeed – and it happened in Glenfern
But it doesn’t end there – not only are te taonga being drawn to the
Kotuku Peninsula but also te tangata – the people.

Tony’s dream has summoned a diverse range of passionate and
skilled individuals from all over the world, united in the simple and
elegant purpose of “creating a safe haven”. Scientists, students,
backpackers, boaties, locals and even paying guests have been
swept up in the momentum and contributed a piece of themselves to
make Glenfern what it is.

And no-one epitomises this more
than the beaming young ecologist
laughing hysterically at her laptop
screen right now as she plays the video of the emerging Cook’s petrel chick over
and over again. Dana came to us as a backpacker – straight off the boat – and
in one incredible year has since taken control of everything from monitoring our
endangered resident seabird population, to producing the newsletter that you are
now reading. She’ll be heading off to broaden her horizons next week. But like so
many others she will be leaving a piece of who she is, within the fence of this very
special place.
To her, and to everybody; from us, from the taonga and from Tony, we thank you

Summer 2014-2015

It’s summertime…
Some days its incredibly inspirational working here.
Recently I had a family group of nine volunteer a
day of their annual holiday time to weed, mulch
and help maintain our Pateke habitat area, all
organised by their 15 year old son – a passionate
conservationist and ornithologist. He had emailed
several weeks earlier enquiring about volunteering
and carried through, arriving with two families all
keen to contribute their time despite the searing
temperature (their reward was a tour of Glenfern
walk to see the black petrel, followed by a refreshing
Whilst they were weeding I had another family group
arrive for a guided tour. This group had three girls from
5 to 12 years old, so I assumed a relatively quick tour.
I was proved very wrong. They were totally absorbed
along the tour, exclaiming at the weta, enthralled
by the Kauri tree swing-bridge and platform and
impressed by the black petrel sitting diligently in its
burrow. They had lots of questions and really inspired
me as to the value of the work we are doing here.
This enthusiasm makes the more mundane tasks of
rodent control all worth it, although we have had
many wins recently in this area as well. More on this
DOC continue to be our primary funding source with
a successful bid to the Community Conservation
Partnership Fund secured late last year. This will
provide funding for biosecurity and help towards

restoration projects for 2015. Other funding is being
sought towards bird monitoring and tracks for this
As we launch ourselves into another anticipated
busy year, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank
all the people that have contributed their time
and resources to support this Sanctuary, helping to
‘create a safe haven for our native species’.
Emma, Scott and Pippa