Stranded woman's fire spared rare birds, trees

8:05 am on 5 November 2016

Conservationists are relieved that shorebirds' nests were not affected by a large fire on an island near Auckland.

Motukorea, or Browns Island, in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf.

Motukorea, or Browns Island, in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Police said the fire that broke out on Motukorea, or Browns Island, on Thursday afternoon was lit by a woman trying to attract attention after spending four days stranded there.

The island is an unoccupied pest-free reserve frequented by shorebirds including endangered New Zealand dotterels and variable oystercatchers.

It is more than 5.5km out in the gulf from St Heliers in Auckland's Eastern Bays.

Department of Conservation spokesperson Keith Gell said thankfully no native trees had burned down in the fires, and the blaze - which tore through 13ha of mostly grass - did not reach the beaches where the shorebirds nest.

Wind hindered firefighters efforts' overnight

Wind hindered firefighters efforts' overnight Photo: Supplied / Waitakere Volunteer Fire Brigade

Mr Gell said DOC had not yet determined whether there had been any damage to historical sites.

DOC staff and fire crews will return this morning to continue to dampen down hotspots.

How the woman became stranded on the island was still not clear. Police said they were concerned for her mental wellbeing.

She was treated at Auckland Hospital for dehydration and returned home.