Before the arrival of the early Māori and European settlers, the country was a winged paradise. Birds flourished due to the lack of natural predators. With the introduction of hundreds of foreign species, New Zealand’s bird population has come under ferocious attack, with several species of bird now critically endangered.
New Zealand has many bird and animal sanctuaries where you can spot some of our favourite feathered friends and learn about the conservation efforts that are happening across the country to save these beautiful creatures from extinction.
Kakapo: critically endangered
The kakapo, a nocturnal, moss-green parrot, is a flightless bird native to New Zealand. After the being brought to near extinction by foreign predators in the 1990s, the entire kakapo population was transferred to a number of predator-free New Zealand islands, including Codfish Island, Maud Island and Little Barrier Island. Thanks to conservation efforts, the population has grown from just 50 kakapo to 213 (as of September 2019).
Kea: nationally endangered
A large, curious bird, the kea is the only true alpine parrot in the world. With a strong attraction to people and their things (kea have been known to peck the rubber seals of car doors), kea live in monogamous relationships and are highly intelligent. With a population of between 3,000 and 7,000 birds, the kea have come under threat due to predation from stoats, cats and other introduced mammals. Despite the Kea's insistence and cunning ways, visitors are discouraged from feeding the kea as conservationists attempt to draw them away from populated areas where they are at greater risk of predators.
Kiwi: nationally endangered
The ever-popular kiwi bird has become the international symbol for New Zealand and is a favourite among visitors. A unique bird, the kiwi is a curious, nocturnal animal that is difficult to spot in the wild. A number of different species of kiwi can be found throughout the country including the little spotted Kiwi, the brown kiwi, the great spotted kiwi, the Rowi and the Tokoeka. These flightless ground-dwellers are vulnerable to stoats, dogs and other mammals, and have been the subject of wide-spread conservation efforts. In predator controlled areas, the number of kiwi are now slowly increasing once more, however, the natural population in uncontrolled areas is still seeing a significant decline.
Visit these sanctuaries to see the birds and learn about New Zealand’s conservation efforts:
Rainbow Springs Nature Park
Zealandia: Karori Wildlife Sanctuary
Kiwi Birdlife Park
Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre
Tiritiri Matangi Open Sanctuary
Contact us to add one of these wildlife bird sanctuaries to your New Zealand Itinerary.