New Zealand Birds

Some bird species are unique native New Zealand birds that are not found in any other countries in the world. Although there are no native mammals apart from bats and marine mammals such as dolphins and seals, New Zealand does have an abundance of unique native sea and forest bird life that exist nowhere else on earth.

A list of birds in New Zealand is provided below. The list is not exhaustive of all species but it demonstrates the variety of bird life you can expect to see.

Predators Introduced by Humans

Before humans inhabited these islands, New Zealand did not have any predatory mammals. Up until the arrival of predators the native birds were free to exist on the ground with many NZ bird species being completely flightless, and some birds even lost use of their wings through evolution. Thinking about it, if there were no predators to worry about why bother to carry on flying!

Kiwi bird in a nest
Kiwi Bird in a Nest, New Zealand

Introduced predators that threaten bird life include; cats, dogs, stoats, ferrets, possums, pigs, rodents, weasels, and hedgehogs. Most of these will kill adult or young birds, some eat eggs, and others compete for the same food that flightless birds such as the Kiwi need to survive.

Weka Bird with three young in New Zealand
Weka with Three Young

In 2014 the Department of Conservation estimated that as many as 25 million native birds are killed by predators in NZ every year. That is an horrific number!

Unique Birds

Native flightless bird South Island Takahē Taken at Zelandia Ecosanctuary

Native flightless bird South Island Takahe at Zelandia Urban Ecosanctuary in Wellington, New Zealand

Unique New Zealand birds include the Kiwi with nostrils at the end of their beaks, the world's only flightless parrot called the Kakapo, and the only truly alpine parrot the Kea.

New Zealand is an important world resource for seabirds and is fortunate in having many unique species of forest birds. This is definitely a bird watching paradise and the bird songs coming from the forests are amazing.

Ecosystem

There is a diverse population of invertebrates that play a vital role in maintaining the ecosystem processes that enable many of the New Zealand native bird populations to survive. It's very unfortunate that along with many of the native New Zealand birds species being under threat, many of the invertebrates also face extinction for similar reasons.

Bird Conservation in New Zealand

Native flightless bird South Island Takahē Taken at Zelandia Ecosanctuary

Native flightless bird South Island Takahe at Zelandia Urban Ecosanctuary in Wellington, New Zealand

Some species, such as the Kiwi and Takahē, are only really able to be seen in protected and controlled environments and sanctuaries. There are a few sanctuaries that have successful breeding programme's for the Kiwi and it is great news every time another one is hatched out!

Kiwi with an Egg
Kiwi Bird and Egg in New Zealand

I believe that the Kekapo is far too endangered to be on view anywhere at this point in time but the protection and breeding programme may change that. With the help of the Department of Conservation hopefully the survival of this bird will continue.

Due to the predatory animals that have been introduced to the islands since people arrived, such as rats, dogs, and cats, the survival rate of these flightless bird species is totally dependant on protection and bird rescue.

However, there are now several breeding programs and projects that have offered successful reintroduction to the wild of a variety of native New Zealand birds. Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust, Rainbow Springs in Rotorua, and Otorohanga Kiwi House, are examples of sanctuaries that I visited on my travels.

Bird Species in New Zealand

These are just some of the bird species you can expect to see in NZ.

Albatross / toroa - 17 species

Albatross, South Island coast of New Zealand
Albatross, South Island coast

Australasian bittern / matuku

Australasian crested grebe / kāmana

Banded rail / moho pererū

Bellbird / Korimako

Black billed gull / tarāpuka

Black-fronted tern / tarapirohe

Black Robin (Chatham Islands)

Black Stilt / Kakī

Black Swan

Blue Duck (Little Duck / Whio)

Brown teal / pāteke

Chatham Islands Black Robin

Chatham Island oystercatcher / tōrea

Chatham Island pigeon / parea

Chatham Island tāiko

Chatham Island tūī

Chatham petrel / ranguru

Cormorant (Shag) - 12 species

Black shag, Phalacrocorax carbo, black cormorant, kawau, New Zealand
Black shag, Phalacrocorax carbo

Dabchick / weweia

Dinornis / Moa

Duck / whio (Little Duck / Blue Duck)

Eastern bar-tailed godwit / kuaka

Fantail / pīwakawaka - New Zealand Fantail

Fernbird / mātātā

Fiordland crested penguin / tawaki

Grey warbler / riroriro

Hoiho / Yellow-eyed Penguin

Hutton's shearwater / Kaikōura tītī

Kākā - large parrot belonging to the nestorinae meridionalis, including the kea and the extinct Norfolk Island kākā

Kākāpō

Kākāriki / Red-crowned parakeet

Red Crowned Parakeet, Kakariki. Otorohanga Kiwi House and Native Bird Park
Kākāriki

Kāruhiruhi / Pied Shag

Kawau Paka / Little Shag

Kea

Kererū, Kūkū or kūkupa / NZ Native Pigeon

Kingfisher / kōtare

Kiwi

Kōkako - The South Island species of these New Zealand birds is believed to have been extinct for more that 25 years

Kune Kune

Little penguin / kororā (Blue Penguin)

Little Black Shag / Cormorant / Kawau Tūi

Little Shag / Cormorant / Kawau Paka

Little Black Shag with a red silicone or rubber charity bracelet on it's neck.
Little Black Shag with a red silicone or rubber charity bracelet on it's neck. Kawau Tūi (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris), Little Black Cormorant, New Zealand

Marsh crake / koitareke

Moa / Dinornis

Morepork / ruru

New Zealand Bush Falcon

New Zealand Dotterel / tūturiwhatu

New Zealand fairy tern / tara iti

New Zealand falcon / kārearea

New Zealand Fantail Piwakawaka

New Zealand Native Pigeon / Kererū, Kūkū or Kukupa

New Zealand parakeet / kākāriki

New Zealand robin / toutouwai

Northern Royal Albatross / toroa

Oystercatcher (Variable Oystercatcher)

Oystercatcher, Birds on Hokitika Beach New Zealand
Oyster Catchers

Paradise duck / pūtakitaki / pūtangitangi

Parekareka / Spotted shag

Penguin / Hoiho the Yellow-eyed Penguin - Penguins only saved from extinction by conservation efforts

Pied Shag / Kāruhiruhi- Cormorant

Pied Stilt

Pukeko / Pūkeko

Red Crowned Kakariki

Rock wren/tuke

Royal albatross / toroa - Two species

Sacred Kingfisher / kōtare

Saddleback / tīeke

Shag / Cormorant - List of 12 New Zealand Shag Species

Shore plover / tūturuatu

Silvereye or wax-eye

Southern Royal Albatross / toroa

Spotless crake / pūweto

Spotted shag / parekareka

Spur Winged Plover

Stitchbird / hihi

Subantarctic teal

Swan / Black Swan

Takahē - Thought to be extinct until Dr. Geoff Orbell re discovered this flightless bird with a red beak and multi coloured plumage in 1948.

Tern

Tomtit / miromiro

Torea / Variable Oystercatcher

Tūī

Variable Oystercatcher / tōrea

Weka

Westland petrel / tāiko

Whio / Blue Duck

White-fronted tern / tara, kahawai bird, sea-swallow, swallow tail, black-billed tern

White heron / kōtuku

Whitehead / pōpokotea

Wrybill/ngutu pare

Yellow-eyed Penguin / Hoiho - This Yellow-eyed Penguin is actually the rarest out of all the penguins, right across the world, with not many more than 4,000 left, the majority of these penguins are located on New Zealand islands with more than six hundred pairs living on the south-eastern coast of NZ.

Yellowhead / mohua

For information on other animals that inhabit these islands please visit New Zealand Animals.

Takahē Native New Zealand Bird

South Island Takahe native bird of New Zealand

Cormorant, Black Shag drying wings on West Coast New Zealand   Variable Oystercatcher, Hokitika Beach, South Island, New Zealand

Bird and Wildlife Parks

Extinct Moa
Moa Auckland Museum New Zealand

The variety of New Zealand birds this country has to offer makes it undoubtedly a brilliant place for bird watching and there are many wildlife conservation parks you can visit.

One of these in the North Island is Otorohanga Kiwi House and Native Bird Park for NZ birds & reptiles. If you are going anywhere near the Waitomo Caves, this park is only a short drive from there.

A little bit further north is another fantastic area of bush with a predator proof fence that you can visit. See my page dedicated to the Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust reserve for more information.

Rainbow Springs Kiwi Wildlife Park is a favourite place of mine and the unique experience of visiting this park, particularly if you visit at night and join in with a delicious meal as well as seeing the clear spring water of Rainbow Springs… and the Maori Cultural Experience offered by the Mitai family! This was one the most memorable parts of our visit to Rotorua and I would recommend the whole package if you will be in Rotorua for the night.

And at the southern end of the North Island, Staglands Wildlife Reserve, located in the stunning location of Akatarawa Valley in Upper Hutt, North Island (Wellington) is involved native bird conservation. Including the, New Zealand Bush Falcon, Blue Duck, Kaka, Kea parrot, and Kune Kune.

The Lochmara Lodge Marlborough Sounds Wildlife Recovery Centre are dedicated and passionate about ensuring the unique flora and fauna of these islands exists for future generations to enjoy. The centre includes and abundance of native bird life, educational signs for information about plants, animals, and conservation projects.

Kiwi Birdlife Park is a family-owned wildlife sanctuary based in Queenstown with a passion for conservation. This five acre park has over twenty species of native birds and reptiles that include the Tuatara and Kiwi.

Nature Sounds and Bird Song

Turn your sound up to listen to the above brilliant recording!