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Birds of New Zealand

Many consider New Zealand the seabird capital of the world and with numerous species found nowhere else, it’s easy to see why.

  • Albatross – There are 14 albatross species native to New Zealand, including two royal albatrosses, the largest in the world. The coasts of New Zealand are the breeding grounds for more of these magnificent creatures than anywhere else in the world.
  • Penguins – While many people believe penguins are strictly limited to colder climates, nine species breed in New Zealand. Three species breed on the mainland, though they don’t breed in large colonies like their Antarctic counterparts. Instead they prefer to stay alone or in small groups.
  • Chatham Island tāiko – With populations under 150, the tāiko is one of the rarest seabirds in the world. They can live up to 30 years and nest in deep burrows under the forest floor.

Aside from seabirds, there are a huge number of wetland waders, forest dwellers and mountain birds.

  • Kiwi – Certainly the most well known of New Zealand’s native birds, the Kiwi is a flightless bird with strange, hair like feathers. There are a further five subspecies, of which some can live up to 50 years. Once on the brink of extinction, conservation efforts have pushed numbers back up, though un-managed populations are still dropping by around 2% per year, the equivalent of 20 a week. They dwell in forests and create nests and burrow in the undergrowth. Your best chance of seeing one is at a zoo or wildlife park.
  • Morepork – The country’s last surviving native owl has a haunting call that can be heard throughout forests at dusk and all through the night.
  • Pūkeko – With its distinctive markings and colouring, the Pūkeko is one of New Zealand’s most recognised native birds. Typically found in wetlands and swampy areas, they’re actually adapting well to changing environments.

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