Having been isolated from other continents for some 65,000,000 years with no land mammals except bats, New Zealand became a country of birds until the arrival of humans (first the Maori, then the Europeans). Since then there has been a huge decline in the native bird population and a third of native species have gone extinct.

In New Zealand, there is an even distribution of terrestrial, wetland and seabird species. Since they had no predators, many birds evolved as flightless ones, thus becoming highly vulnerable to introduced mammals (rats, cats, dogs, weasels, pigs, etc). Under the New Zealand Threat Classification System, 153 species of birds out of 200 are threatened with extinction, a bleak picture indeed.

Then came in the Common Brushtail Possum, which only aggravated an already bad situation for New Zealand birds. Click here for more details.

KAIKOURA PENINSULA : Located on the Pacific Ocean side of the South Island, where a current from a deep ocean trench brings up abundant marine life near the surface, which attracts whales and birds. Click here for more details.

Here are some websites for the identification of New Zealand birds : (private sea tours in Kaikoura for seabirds) (provide lots of info + dozens of photos on each bird) (The Ornithological Society of New Zealand)


Jan Walker, Regional Representative for the Canterbury region of the Ornithological Society of New Zealand, has been helpful with the identification of some birds.

Below is a list of commonly seen birds in New Zealand, except for the species seen at Kaikoura.  Click on each bird name to access their own page.

BLACK-BILLED GULL (Chroicocephalus buller)
BLACK-FRONTED DOTTEREL (Elseyornis melanops)
BLUE PENGUIN (Eudyptula minor)
CALIFORNIA QUAIL (Callipepla californica)
CANADA GOOSE (Branta canadensis)
CAPE PETREL(Daption capense)
COMMON BLACKBIRD (Turdus merula)
FERAL GOOSE (Anser anser)
GREAT CORMORANT (Phalocrocorax carbo)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus)
MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos)
NEW ZEALAND PIGEON (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae)
PARADISE SHELDUCK (Tadorna variegata)
PIED SHAG (Phalocrocorax varius)
PUKEKO (Porphyrio porphyrio)
RED-BILLED GULL (Chroicocephalus scopulinus)
SALVIN’S ALBATROSS (Thalassarche salvini)
SOOTY SHEARWATER  (Puffinus griseus)
SOUTHERN GIANT PETREL  (Macronectes giganteus)
SOUTHERN ROYAL ALBATROSS (Diomedea epomophora)
SPOTTED SHAG (Phalacrocorax punctatus)
TUI BIRD (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae)
VARIABLE OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus unicolor)
WHITE-CHINNED PETREL (Procellaria aequinoctialis)
WHITE-FACED HERON (Egretta novaehollandiae)

Black-billed gull ringed on both legs - Christchurch Botanic Garden - NZ
Black-billed gull ringed on both legs – Christchurch Botanic Garden – NZ