Shining Cuckoo

Bird Spotting

The shining cuckoo (also known as bronze cuckoo) is a migratory bird that spends the New Zealand winters in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, returning here only to breed...

Tomtit

Bird Spotting

A curious and inquisitive nature makes the tomtit an endearing bird With their petite, adoring facial features amplified by the ‘whiskers’ protruding from the base of their bill, I find...

The grey warbler

Bird Spotting

This tiny bird has a unique behaviour that allows identification from a distance The grey warbler is New Zealand’s most widely distributed endemic bird species, occurring everywhere on the three...

Morepork

Bird Spotting

You don’t have to venture out at night to catch a glimpse of New Zealand’s only remaining native owl It’s a shame we don’t do more  tramping at night. If...

The white heron

Bird Spotting

The endangered white heron is rarely seen except by those who seek it out We are very lucky to still have the white heron (kotuku) here in New Zealand. After...

Attractive thief

Bird Spotting

The kea is a much-loved bird but it wasn’t always viewed as a lovable rogue Anyone who has done any tramping in the South Island will, in all likelihood, have...

Melodic master

Bird Spotting

Tui are found everywhere, which is music to our ears Everyone knows the iconic tui. Its beautiful song of loud and complicated tuneful notes interspersed with coughs, grunts and wheezes...

A bird that zips and pips

Bird Spotting

Use your peripheral vision to spot the rifleman, New Zealand’s smallest bird The male rifleman (titi pounamu), at a mere 6g in weight, claims the title of being New Zealand’s...

The kingfisher

Bird Spotting

This is a common, easily recognised bird that prefers an elevated perch The kingfisher (kotare) is one of New Zealand’s best known birds; almost everyone will recognise the hunched silhouette...

The silvereye

Bird Spotting

This bird is an ally of fruit growers everywhere, THE SILVEREYE (tauhou) is self introduced, making this delightful little bird a native to New Zealand. They are now one of New...

The bellbird

Bird Spotting

New Zealand’s most melodic bird can be found everywhere but the upper North Island Bellbirds, or korimako, are the most widespread and familiar honey (nectar) eater in the South Island...

Blue duck

Bird Spotting

A rare treat on fast flowing streams in the North and South islands. An iconic endemic bird, the blue duck/whio is a mountain stream dweller that requires a specific river...

New Zealand falcon

Bird Spotting

Sparrows, pheasants and hares beware The New Zealand  falcon/karearea is one of only four native raptors left in New Zealand. (The others are harrier hawk, morepork and barn owl.) With...

Fantail

Bird Spotting

The fantail is one of our best-known birds and often accompanies trampers on their bush walks. The fantail or piwakawaka would have to be one of New Zealand’s best known...

South Island robin

Bird Spotting

Keep an eye out for this bird in July, as it begins building its nest.  I think the South Island robin (toutouwai) would have to be our friendliest native bird. I...

Weka

Bird Spotting

A tramper’s favourite nuisance bird. Wekas are charismatic birds, often attracted to human activity which makes them an endless source of entertainment for trampers. People who live alongside weka often...

Welcome swallow

Bird Spotting

The welcome swallow (warou) is a self-introduced species from Australia, which makes them a native species as opposed to an endemic one. They were rare vagrant visitors before the late...

Fernbird

Bird Spotting

This songbird is difficult to find – unless you know where to look. The sparrow-sized fernbird (matata) is more often heard than seen. It prefers thick vegetation, reeds and grasses,...

Southern crested grebe

Bird Spotting

Only found in the South Island, the southern crested grebe has an interesting method of disposing of bones.  The southern crested grebe (puteketeke) would undoubtedly be one of our most...

Little owl

Bird Spotting

A bird introduced to control other introduced birds – sounds familiar, doesn’t it? But this owl is no pest. The little owl was introduced from Germany between 1906 and 1910...

New Zealand dabchick

Bird Spotting

At about half the size of a mallard duck (28cm long, 230g),  the dabchick (weweia) often goes unnoticed when living among other waterfowl, but their hyperactive nature sets them apart from other...

Rock wren

Bird Spotting, Skills

New Zealand once had six species of the wren. Today, there are just two – the rifleman and the rock wren. Conservation status: The rock wren (piwauwau or tuke) is endemic and...

Yellow-crowned parakeet

Bird Spotting, Skills

The yellow-crowned parakeet (kakariki) belongs to the Cyanoramphus family which includes five other similar-sized green parrots. They were once very common throughout New Zealand but are now rare or uncommon...

Black-fronted tern

Bird Spotting

The black-fronted tern (tarapirohe) breeds only in the braided rivers of the eastern and southern South Island. But once the breeding season is finished, they disperse widely to coastal areas...

White-faced heron

Bird Spotting, Skills

The white-faced heron (matuku) is New Zealand’s most common heron and is often seen stalking prey in a variety of aquatic habitats as well as moist pasture and even sports...

Pukeko

Bird Spotting, Skills

Conservation status: Native species classified as ‘not threatened’. Diet: The most common food sources are shoots, leaves, stems and seeds of a variety of grasses, though it also eats other animals – it...

New Zealand scaup

Bird Spotting, Skills

The New Zealand scaup (pāpango) is the only diving duck in New Zealand. It spends a lot of time underwater and can dive to a depth of up to three...

Spur-winged plover

Bird Spotting, Skills

The spur-winged plover is one of our most successful self-introduced birds, going from a fully protected native species to having that protection lifted in 2010. The first record of the...

Grey teal

Bird Spotting, Skills

The grey teal (têtê) is a native (self-introduced) dabbling species of duck. It is a nomadic bird and highly mobile, able to take advantage of changing seasons and conditions to...

Birds of a feather

Bird Spotting, Features, Great Walks

Whitehead/popokatea The whitehead occurs only in the North Island, south of a line between Pirongia Forest and Te Aroha. They are classed as a ‘declining’ species with very patchy distribution...

Paradise shelduck

Bird Spotting

The paradise shelduck is on the increase. Since 1990, the paradise shelduck (putangitangi) population has increased dramatically and it can now be found around sports fields and other open grassed...

Australasian shoveler

Bird Spotting

Conservation status Native species classified as ‘not threatened’. Features The most distinguishing feature of the Australasian shoveler/kuruwhengi is its large shovel-shaped bill that is almost twice as wide at its...

Yellowhead

Bird Spotting

Conservation status Endemic species classified as ‘recovering’. Features Mohua have an eye-catching bright yellow head, neck and breast. The back, wings and tail are brown while the tail can sometimes...

Wrybill

Bird Spotting

The wrybill (ngutu pare) is the only bird in the world that possesses a laterally-curved bill and what’s more, it always points to the right. This feature enables it to...

Whitehead

Bird Spotting

Conservation status Endemic species classified as ‘declining’. Features Whitehead/popokatea are a small songbird with a compact body, short tail and bill and long legs similar in size to a sparrow,...

Redpoll

Bird Spotting, Skills

Conservation status Introduced and naturalised. Features Redpolls are the smallest introduced finch. They are brownish in colour and streaked with off-white and very similar in appearance to a sparrow or...

Banded rail

Bird Spotting

Conservation status Native and declining. Features Banded rail/moho-pererū is a medium-sized bird of the rail family. In profile, it is very similar to weka but less than half the size...

Skylark

Bird Spotting

Conservation status Introduced and naturalised. Features The skylark/kaireka is about the same size as a common house sparrow although more finely featured. Its average length and weight is 18cm and...

Californian quail

Bird Spotting

Conservation status Introduced and naturalised. Features California quail are about the same size as a blackbird but look plumper. They are predominantly a blue-grey colour with a creamy chest covered...

Royal spoonbill

Bird Spotting, Skills

Conservation statusA native species classed as naturally uncommon. FeaturesThe royal spoonbill can be described as a large, fairly heavy, long-legged bird with white plumage. They are similar in profile to...

Hihi

Bird Spotting

Conservation statusEndemic species classified as ‘nationally vulnerable’. Features The hihi is a medium-sized songbird recognisable by its very upright, almost wren-like cocked tail. Males and females differ, with males having a black head...

North Island kōkako

Bird Spotting

There are only a handful of natural remnant kōkako populations left, confined to a few scattered forests in the northern half of the North Island – the Waikato, Bay of...

North Island Saddleback

Bird Spotting

Like many endemic bird species, the saddleback (tieke) was an abundant and reasonably common bird when Europeans arrived in New Zealand. But with the subsequent introduction of rats, mice and...

Black-fronted dotterel

Bird Spotting

Conservation statusBlack-fronted dotterel are self-introduced, arriving here from Australia, and became established in the 1950s, making the bird a native species. They are classified as naturally uncommon, with an estimated...

Bar-tailed godwit

Bird Spotting

Conservation statusNative species classified as declining. FeaturesIn general, bar-tailed godwits are predominantly brown on their upper parts and pale below, giving an overall impression of a brown and white  mottled...