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Exploring New Zealand


Migratory godwits feeding on the shellbanks at Miranda
The tiny settlement of Miranda, 35 kilometres west of Thames, lies on the Firth of Thames between Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula, its tidal mudflats providing a seasonal home for thousands of migratory wading birds from the Arctic.

The star among Miranda's long-distance visitors is the bar-tailed godwit, which undertakes an incredible non-stop flight from its breeding grounds in Alaska each southern hemisphere spring, the longest non-stop flight of any bird.

The Miranda Shorebird Centre is part of the East Asian-Australasian Shorebird Site Network, a group of key sites for migratory birds, and is a great place to learn more about these awe-inspiring birds and the other Arctic waders, including red knots and
turnstones, which come to New Zealand.

Godwits begin arriving at Miranda in September and stay until March, while local migrants, like the cute little New Zealand wrybill and the South Island pied oystercatcher, come to feed here between January and July. You
can visit any time, but the shorebird centre's autumn migration day (in February or March) offers a good opportunity to see the godwits and knots in their handsome red breeding plumage before they leave on their long journey north.

From the centre, a two kilometre long walking track leads to the main roosting and feeding areas and the viewing hide. Bring a pair of binoculars so you can see the birds on the shellbanks at high tide, or on the stilt ponds opposite.

After a day with the birds, drive seven kilometres south for a soak in the thermally heated mineral baths at the Miranda Hot Springs.