Public and our observations during 1999–2004 suggested that tūī (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae
) visited the city of Hamilton during March to October only, outside the nesting season. From 2004 onwards, we captured and banded 51 adult tūī and fitted radio transmitters to 41 in Waikato urban areas to locate nests. We directly observed 15 nests to determine nesting success and gather evidence of any predation events. Tūī moved 5–23 km from urban areas to surrounding native forests at the onset of nesting, but only four (29%) of 14 unmanaged nests fledged young, due mostly to predation by ship rats (Rattus rattus
), swamp harriers (Circus approximans
), and brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula
). Subsequent effective pest mammal control in forests around Hamilton was associated with greatly increased year-round tūī abundance and nesting in Hamilton. These results confirm previous findings that tūī move widely in winter; that they readily cross pasture in the absence of forest corridors, and that they will permanently inhabit urban areas. Provided adequate food is available, effective control of ship rats and possums can rapidly (1–4 years) increase tūī visits and nesting within 20 km of managed sites, enabling recolonisation of proximate urban habitats by this iconic endemic taxon, despite previous evidence for natal philopatry.