Bird Watching

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Northland Tui on a Flame Tree

© Stephen Western

The Far North is a very special area to see some of the most unusual and sought-after of New Zealand’s birds.

The Bay of Islands has the 'best conservation project on the planet!'

Project Island Song is an ecological restoration project of an archipelago of island sanctuaries, known as Ipipiri, in the eastern Bay of Islands.

After a number of years in operation and achieving significant goals which include the eradication of pests from the islands, Project Island Song is now in position to tackle longer term aims, such as the reintroduction of native species to the islands – literally bringing back the birdsong to the islands, note by note.

Getting to Project Island Song is easy.

Visitors are welcome to come all year round to experience some of New Zealand’s distinctive birdlife, from the call of the male toutouwai (NI robin) to the footprints in the sandy beaches of our iconic kiwi. To protect the ever- growing birdsong on the islands we ask visitors to check for unwanted stowaway pests before heading out to Project Island Song.

There are various ways of getting to Project Island Song's Visitor Centre in Otehei Bay, Urupukapuka Island:

Here are just some of the uniquely NZ birds you might witness when you visit Project Island Song:

Name: Tūturiwhatu (New Zealand dotterel)
Scientific name: Charadrius obscures
Conservation status: Nationally endangered, endemic
Locations: A number of secluded beaches around Project Island Song

Name: Oi (Grey-faced petrel)
Scientific name: Pterodroma macroptera gouldi
Conservation status: Protected endemic, but legally harvested by Maori on privately-owned islands
Locations: Rock-stacks off the eastern side of Urupukapuka Island, and on cliffs on the northern side of Moturua Island

Name: Pāteke (Brown teal)
Scientific name: Anas chlorotis
Conservation status: Nationally endangered, endemic
Location: Urupukapuka Island

Name: Northland brown kiwi
Scientific name: Apteryx mantelli
Conservation status: Nationally endangered, endemic
Locations: Moturua Island and Motuarohia Island

Name: Toutouwai (North Island robin)
Scientific name: Petroica longipes
Conservation status: Protected endemic
Locations: Moturua Island

Book: Where to find birds in the Far North of New Zealand - Author Detlef Davies

It describes 45 sites north of Helena Bay in the east and the Waipoua Forest area in the west, giving co-ordinates, directions and species to look for. It includes areas to travel by boat to find oceanic species like albatrosses and who runs trips to these areas.

There are maps, line diagrams and the author’s photos of many of the birds and places, contact details for conservation organisations, wildlife tour companies, DOC offices etc, also sites worth checking on route from Auckland to Kerikeri.

The region still has a healthy population of Kiwis, the endemic New Zealand Dotterel has its stronghold on Far North beaches, some native forests have North Island Robins, Riflemen and Kokako and estuaries have large numbers of Arctic shorebirds which spend the northern winter here.

This book is not about identification (for which several books are available).