Interesting Birds You Might See in New Zealand
After reading our 10 New Zealand Birds That You’re Likely to See, you might be interested in some rarer birds to look out for during your travels in New Zealand. That’s exactly what this list is for: some of the amazing birds in New Zealand that are possible to spot in the wild but is a little challenging.
New Zealand’s main wildlife population on land are birds, where native species have evolved away from mammalian predators. For this reason, there are some intriguing types of birds unlike any other and are often not scared by humans. Find out more about the wildlife found in New Zealand with our 21 Animals and Birds Unique to New Zealand, as well as the 10 Things You Did Not Know About New Zealand Wildlife.
1. Kiwi Bird
New Zealand’s most famous bird, the kiwi bird population is actually in a state of decline due to introduced predators such as dogs, stoats and cats. Kiwi are flightless birds and feed by walking slowly, probing the ground and sniffing loudly with their long beak. Once a worm or an insect is sniffed out, they plunge their long bill deep into the ground to retrieve their prize. While kiwi birds are in some wild forested areas around New Zealand, you’re best chances of seeing them are with guides and in captivity in conservation centres. See the 10 Best Places to See a Kiwi Bird in New Zealand and Where to See Kiwi Birds in New Zealand for more advice.
2. Brown Creeper
Their high-pitched cheeping makes brown creepers easy to hear as they feed in flocks in the forests. In summer, a melodic breeding call is added to the noise. Only the dominant male and female will breed, while a number of helpers will assist in feeding the chicks. The brown creeper is also known as a pipipi.
As the name suggests, yellowheads are bright yellow birds. They are small in size and come together in large flocks during winter. In summer, they separate out into breeding territories. During this time, you can also hear the “buzz” call of the female. Another name for a yellowhead is mohua.
This medium-sized bird is most commonly seen on pest-free islands and areas of extensive conservation work. The North Island and South Island saddlebacks are also known as tieke. Only adult birds have the distinct black colouring and red “saddle” over its back, which the South Island birds take a lot longer to develop than their North Island counterparts.
5. Grey Warbler
Otherwise known as riroriro, the grey warbler are better known for their catchy melodies than their small and dull-brown appearance. Due to their colouring and the way that they flit between branches to catch their food on their wings, they are difficult to spot. The sounds that grey warblers make are extremely different throughout the country, as they are said to have different dialects.
Kaka are large forest parrots, either seen on pest-free islands or in more remote forests like in Fiordland or Stewart Island. Kaka rip the bark off trees to expose sap, grubs and other insects to feed on. These parrots also make a range of noises, from harsh “scracks” to melodic whistles.
7. New Zealand Parakeet
Also known as kakariki, which means “small parrot”, New Zealand parakeet comes in different sub-species, most commonly the red- and yellow-crowned parakeet. Although it can be hard to spot parakeet in the wild, you can sometimes hear their high-pitched chatter which sounds like manic laughter. At certain times of the year, some parakeet feed on fallen seeds on the ground, which is only made possible in pest-free areas.
8. Shining Cuckoo
The shining cuckoo and its close relative the long-tailed cuckoo are a bird found across the South Pacific. They visit New Zealand each spring to lay their eggs in the nests of grey warblers, brown creepers and yellowheads. The eggs hatch quickly and are raised as an adopted nestling. Shining cuckoos are also known as pipiwharauroa.
Rifleman are New Zealand’s most ancient and smallest birds only weighing about 5 grams. They have green feathers and are quite hard to spot as they dart like ping pong balls across the forest. Rifleman, also called titpounamu, are abundant in many New Zealand forests so are still a regular sighting on hikes if you keep an eye out.
Morepork, or ruru, are one of New Zealand’s only surviving owl species. As nocturnal creatures, morepork can be hard to spot, but it’s still possible to see them sleeping in branches camouflaged by their mottled bark-like colouring. They are predators, so they are often the reason for the alarm calls of small birds once they are discovered.