Did you know that New Zealand is home to over 200 bird species, many of which are endemic to the country? Unfortunately, a lot of our native birds are under serious threat (a whopping 68%), while many others are shy towards humans making it difficult to spot them in the wild.
The Northland region is a great destination to experience New Zealand’s native birdlife, and thankfully there are many conservation projects underway in the area. While not all are endemic to the region, here are a few of the incredible birds you might come across while exploring Northland.
Northland Brown Kiwi
The Northland kiwi is the only kiwi found in the wild in New Zealand. Being flightless, nocturnal, and critically endangered makes the kiwi notoriously hard to spot, but catching a glimpse of our curious national icon truly is a memorable experience.
North Island Weka
While still at risk, the weka is fortunately now considered a recovering species thanks to strong conservation efforts. This inquisitive and feisty bird is known for its distinctive ‘coo-et’ sound, often heard at dusk and in the evening. As with the kiwi bird, the weka is brown and flightless.
Brown Teal (Pateke)
The brown teal is also now considered a recovering species, but unlike the weka, it is flighted. This small dabbling duck was once widespread throughout New Zealand, but now they’re restricted to Great Barrier Island and certain areas of Northland. Watch out – they are known to be pretty territorial and aggressive for a bird of their size!
North Island Kōkako
The North Island kōkako is likely to be heard before it’s seen, with a haunting organ-like call. They are a blue-grey colour with a distinctive black mask and rich blue wattles. In Maori myth, the kōkako is said to have filled its wattles with water and brought it to Maui, who then rewarded the bird with long and slender legs.
These are just a few of the many birds you might encounter in Northland. As birdlife in New Zealand continues to face a decline, the importance of caring for our environment becomes more prevalent. As the Maori proverb says, “Look after the birds and the forest flourishes. If the forest flourishes, the birds flourish.”