Bream Head Reserve from Manaia

Nature Spotting

Kiwi footprints

Look out for Kiwi footprints in soft mud

Bream Head is an iconic Reserve with a rugged shoreline backed by steep forest-clad slopes and rocky outcrops and peaks.  Bream Head dominates the landscape both from the sea and from the land, and as such its imposing form is a natural gateway to the Whangarei Harbour.  The Reserve is defined by a steep ridge line and peaks of Te Whara/Bream Head up to 490m high, and Matariki/Mt Lion, and Home Point and Busby Head, between the Whangarei Harbour entrance and Ocean Beach.

The Reserve showcases the best coastal broad leaf forest ecosystem remaining in Northland and is one of the most significant Reserves in the country.  There is a complete sequence of vegetation types from the sandy and rocky seashore to high forest and rocky outcrops supporting an incredibly diverse range of species including kiwi, kukupa (wood pigeon), kaka, bellbird, grey-faced petrel and other seabirds, threatened invertebrates, bats, skinks, geckos, and many nationally and regionally significant plants.

With sustained and intensive pest control the ecosystem is flourishing.  New species have been found and perhaps more are still waiting to be discovered; birds are being reintroduced that have been absent from mainland Northland for over a century and species that were only occasional visitors from the Hen and Chicken offshore islands such as bellbird and kaka are now breeding within the Reserve, and hopefully others will follow like the red-crowned kakariki.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled!

A great way to increase your enjoyment while visiting the Reserve is looking out for and identifying our wildlife.

Identify some Unique Species

We have created some information sheets.  You can load a PDF into your tablet before your trip or if you have a printer why not make a copy and bring it along with you. This is a great activity for kids. Click on the image links below to download.


Native Birds at Bream Head Scenic Reserve PDF

Click to view native birds PDF

Forest Trees at Bream Head Scenic Reserve

Click to view forest trees PDF

Special Plants at Bream Head Scenic Reserve PDF

Click to view special plants PDF

Skinks and Geckos at Bream Head Scenic Reserve PDF

Click to view skinks and geckos PDF


Skinks and Geckos

Here are some tips for spotting skinks and geckos:

    • Skinks live down on the ground while geckos are more usually found up in the branches.
    • If you are in doubt if the creature in front of you is a skink or a gecko remember ‘skinks blink’ (but geckos don’t).
    • Many of our skink and geckos are threatened or endangered.  By all means look but please don’t touch.  If you are moving tree debris and leaf litter to look for skinks please do so slowly and carefully.


North Island Robin (Toutouwai) / Whitehead (Popokatea)

If you make it up to the ridge line, especially in the area where the Peach Cove track crosses the ridge, keep your eyes out for North Island robins and whitehead.  You will often see the robins hopping along beside the path and if you stop they may well come right up to you.  You will see the whiteheads in the trees as they are a flocking songbird which you are likely to hear before you see. We are very proud to have robins and whiteheads in our Reserve and we don’t want them to come to any harm. Please be very careful around them and please do not feed them.

Ecological Highlights

Ecological highlights of Bream Head Conservation Reserve include:

    • NI robin were reintroduced to Bream Head in 2016 after being absent for over 100 years.
    • Whitehead were reintroduced to the Reserve in 2017.
    • Grey faced petrel self-reintroduced to the Reserve and bred successfully in 2017.
    • Bream Head contains the largest and most healthy population of the nationally critical threatened tree – Northland horopito (Pseudowintera insperata) IN THE WORLD
    • Bream Head is home to the southern most mainland colony of the threatened native flax snail – pupuharakeke IN THE WORLD
    • Bream Head contains the largest mainland population of the tree parapara IN THE WORLD
    • A previously unidentified skink was found for the first time in 2013 at Bream Head
    • Bream Head is home to an incredible diversity of nationally and regionally significant plants and animals including  threatened species and species not seen anywhere outside Whangarei Heads.