Motutapu has a wide range of birds, both native and exotic, who either visit or reside on the island. Surveys undertaken by members of the Ornithological Society of New Zealand in 2007 and 2008 have identified 61 bird species on the island: increasing numbers of birds, and species are being revealed every year following the pest eradication – exotic, native, and endemic (found only in New Zealand). Translocations of species such as Coromandel Brown Kiwi, takahe, pateke (brown teal), shore plover, whiteheads have occurred, and more are arriving on their own!
Five native lizard species (copper skink, moko skink, Suter’s skink, common gecko and the Pacific gecko) are present on Motutapu – along with the invasive exotic rainbow (or plague) skink. Fossil records from Motutapu provide vivid evidence that the island once supported a much more diverse assemblage of reptile species than it does today. It is anticipated that there will be dramatic changes in the reptile populations now the islands are pest free.
Motutapu has not escaped the introduction of exotic animal species since the Europeans arrived in the mid 1800’s. Unfortunately, they have had a detrimental effect on the flora and fauna of both Motutapu and Rangitoto. Wallabies and possums were successfully removed from Rangitoto and Motutapu by the end of the 1990s. The eight remaining animal pest species (cats, stoats, hedgehogs, rabbits, rats (ship and Norway), kiore and mice) were eradicated in 2009. The islands were declared pest free in 2011.
As Motutapu is a working farm, sheep and cattle can be seen in varying numbers on the island throughout the year.
Exotic birds such as blackbird, chaffinch, mallard duck, goldfinch, greenfinch, magpie, myna, rosella, skylark, sparrow, starling, thrush, turkey, yellow hammer have all been observed on Motutapu.