Fantastic Avifauna In New Zealand

Posted On November 18, 2009 

Country Info

New Zealand is a small island country (area: 2,68,680 square kilometres) located in the southern Pacific Ocean and to the south-eastern direction of the continent of Australia. The country comprises two main landmasses, the North Island and the South Island separated by the Cook Strait, besides several other smaller islands like the Chatham Islands, Stewart Island, Waiheke Island. Fiji and Tonga are the other close neighbours of New Zealand, also known as Kiwi after one of the rare flightless birds found on its soil. The country’s coastline is 15,134 kilometres long. National capital is Wellington.

New Zealand


Owing to the factor of isolation and a location that did not invite much attention and consequent disturbance by mankind in the past, New Zealand has in its possession a rich biodiversity including extraordinary flora and fauna. The country’s flora is mostly endemic and its forest lands are mainly dominated by podocarps, giant kauri and during winter the southern beech. This apart, the country’s vegetation includes grasslands featuring tussock and low shrublands. There were also plant species like Adam’s mistletoe that have gone extinct now.


Till recently, it was believed that New Zealand did not possess any non-marine mammals except a few species of bats. However, following the discovery of an animal bone, biologists are convinced that the country has been home to a diverse fauna. Birds in New Zealand have always been a mega attraction for the country featured some of the rarest birds (featured since some have become extinct) and still features other rare types. Among the animals found in New Zealand, there are reptiles like geckos, fossil tuatara, besides primitive frogs, coastal venomous spider like katipo and insect like weta. However, New Zealand authorities have taken appreciable restoration initiatives to reintroduce various species.

Birds in New Zealand

Birds, as has been said, constitute the cream of the country’s rich fauna. There were birds that have slowly become extinct, thanks to human encroachment, like the Haast’s eagle, moas, wrens, laughing owl, Chatham island Bellbird, Piopio and others. There are even other species that have been identified to be endangered, like kakapo and takahe besides the popular kiwis.

List of birds found in New Zealand:

Here are some of the rare bird species found in New Zealand (some of which have even become extinct). In some cases the local Maori names of the birds are popular while in other cases the English name is more popular:

  • Moas (extinct) like Little Bush Moa, Upland Moa, Heavy-footed Moa, Mappin’s Moa, Stout-legged Moa and others.
  • Kiwis like North Island Brown Kiwi, Okarito Brown Kiwi, Great Spotted Kiwi, Little Spotted Kiwi, South Island Brown Kiwi
  • Penguins like Gentoo Penguin, King Penguin, Rockhopper Penguin, Erect-Crested Penguin, Blue Penguin, king PenguinWaihata Penguin (extinct now) and others.
  • Petrels (seabird) like Southern Fulmar, Mottled Petrel, Providence Petrel, Antarctic Petrel, Tahiti Petrel, Hall’s Giant Petrel and others. Among Petrels, the Soft-plumaged Petrel is seriously endangered while species like White-necked Petrel, Pycroft’s Petrel and Cook’s Petrel are vulnerable.
  • Albatross like Royal Albatross, Chatham Albatross (seriously endangered), Scooty Albatross, Black-Footed Albatross, Buller’s Albatross and others.
  • New Zealnad Pelican (now extinct)
  • Red-tailed Tropicbird
  • Cormorants like Great Cormorant, Little Cormorant, Auckland Islands Shag, Pitt Island Shag, Chatham Island Shag, Bronze Shag and others.
  • Herons like White-necked Heron, Cattle Egret, White-faced Heron, Australian Little Bittern, White Heron and others.
  • Ibis like Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Australian White Ibis and others.
  • Blue-billed Duck, De Lautour’s Duck, Blue Duck, New Zealand Swan and others.Blue Billed Duck
  • Indian Peafowl
  • New Zealand Snipe
  • Grebes like Great Crested Grebe, Hoary-headed Grebe, Australasian Grebe
  • Cuckoos like Long-tailed Cuckoo, Shining Cuckoo
  • Wrens like Bush Wren, Stephen’s Island Wren, Rock Wren
  • Parrots like Mountain Parrot, Owl Parrot, Mountain Parrot
  • Parakeets like Forbes’ Parakeet, Yellow-crowned Parakeet
  • Robins like Black Robin (endangered), North Island Robin and others
  • Kokakos or blue-wattled crows
  • Seedlebacks
  • Kakariki
  • New Zealand Pigeon
  • Gannet
  • Scooty Shearwaters
  • Red-billed and Black-backed gulls
Introduced species

Following are the bird species that have been introduced to balance the ecological loss by means of extinction of many species. Some of these are:

  • Australian Magpie
  • Skylark
  • House Sparrow
  • YellowhammerYellowhammer
  • European Goldfinch
  • Common Blackbird
Bird watching in New Zealand:
  • Birdwatching in Waitomo
    Here one can view birds in their natural habitats.
  • Karori Wildlife Sanctuary
    World’s first fully-fenced sanctuary, Karori is home to endangered species like little spotted kiwi, saddleback, hihi and giant weta.
  • Tiritiri Matangi Island Bird Sanctuary
    Located 30 kilometres from Auckland, this sanctuary is unique and popular as here one gets to view large number of bird species within a short span of time.
  • Kapiti Island
    Located at the bottom of the North Island, Kapiti is an important site for bird recovery. Here Species liks kakariki (red-crowned parakeet), robin, bellbird and little spotted kiwi are found.
  • Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre
    It was set up for conservation of some of New Zealand’s most endangered wildlife. Kiwi, kokako, kaka and other wildlife species are now being restored to the forest.
  • Ulva Island open sanctuary
    Here tourists can expect to be greeted by birds like kaka, bellbird, tui and grey warbler.kaka bird
  • There are national parks like Abel Tasman National Park, Paparoa National Park, Nelson Lakes National Park and many others where rare birds can be seen.
  • Miranda Shorebird Centre
  • Okupe Lagoon
    Here costal waterfowls can be found
  • Rainbow Springs, Kiwi Encounter
  • Winspan Birds of Prey in Rotorua
Birding in New Zealand

Bird watching in New Zealand stands out from other places in terms of quality and diversity of endemic species found, the fantastic viewing possibilities and sea-birding.

Birding tour

Individuals and groups intending to experience the fabulous avifauna of New Zealand can avail customised tour programmes whereby they can get maximum enjoyment. In these tours, experienced bird-guides lead the teams of tourists with all necessary permits. One can avail proper accommodation and meals during the tour along with booklets related to the areas he/she would visit to view birdlife. Consultancy services for self-driven bird watching are also available.

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