photo

 

Sunset over Australasian gannet colony, Muriwai, West Auckland

The Australasian gannet (Sula serrator) is a large, graceful seabird commonly seen around the New Zealand coastline throughout the year. Australasian gannets are especially well-known for their diving performances, plunging into the sea at high speeds (up to 145 km/h) from heights of 30 metres or more to catch unsuspecting fish several metres below the surface.

Australasian gannets were originally thought to leave New Zealand annually after each breeding season, but their presence in New Zealand throughout the year led some researchers to believe that this was not the case. It wasn’t until the 1950s that recoveries of banded birds showed that gannets in fact do not migrate annually. Fledging chicks were found to initially migrate westward to Australia, where some have been recorded as far away as northern Queensland and even Fremantle in Western Australia. Immature gannets then return to New Zealand permanently when 2–5 years of age and start breeding from 4–7 years of age.

Most gannets breed on offshore islands and only rarely do they nest on the mainland. This colony at Muriwai, west of Auckland, is gradually expanding from an original small colony on Oaia Island visible near the horizon. Since the mid 1970s, overcrowding on the island has led to the colony spreading to include these clifftop platforms on the mainland.


Sunrise at Castlepoint

View south from Maunganui Bluff

Pingao on dunes, 90 Mile Beach

Evening twilight over Rangitoto Island

Coastal cliffs, Tongaporutu

Piha, West Auckland

Pingao, Mangawhai Heads, Northland

Castlepoint Lighthouse at sunrise

Coastal cliffs at sunset, Tongaporutu

Australasian gannets, Muriwai

Sand dune, 90 Mile Beach

Twilight over Mt Taranaki

Pools at low tide, Oakura Beach

Waves on rocks, 90 Mile Beach

Australasian gannet colony, Muriwai

Wreck of the "Gairloch", Oakura Beach

Sunrise over Rangitoto Island