New Zealand’s Unique Birdlife

New Zealand is home to a special collection of beautiful and truly unique native birds.

Spectacular diversity, isolated evolution and absolute uniqueness characterise the native birds that inhabit New Zealand's forests, mountains and coastline. Many species are continuing to thrive despite the inevitable introduction of predators.

Sadly, not all of our birds are equipped to deal with their changing natural habitat. Several of our more precious, iconic species are clinging to existence. The kakapo, kiwi, kaka and whio are just several examples of the stunning birdlife you are likely to see while visiting New Zealand. All four of these bird species are endangered, with conservation measures in place in an attempt to secure a future for them.


The kakapo is a natural living treasure and one of the rarest parrots in the world. Weighing up to 4kg, the kakapo is also the heaviest of the parrot family. Completely flightless, they spend their lives on the forest floor with only beautiful green camouflage for protection. Unfortunately, this places the kakapo and it's young at significant risk to predation and as a result only 126 exist today - all in breeding programmes that aim to restore wild populations in safe, pest free environments.

See the Kakapo up close: Look out for Sirocco, New Zealand’s most famous Kakapo and an ambassador for his species, as he moves around the country living in various wildlife centres.


New Zealand's iconic bird, the nocturnal and flightless kiwi is a unique rarity. They are by far the smallest member of their family, which includes ostriches, emus and cassowaries. The kiwi has the largest egg of any bird comparative to its body size. Five species of kiwi are known to exist although total numbers are declining with current estimates being below 100,000. Habitat destruction from historic deforestation has been partially remedied with the protection of vast tracts of forest in national parks but mammalian predators continue to threaten populations.

See kiwi up close: One of the best places to experience kiwi in the wild is Stewart Island, where this unique flightless bird outnumbers locals 50 to 1. Take a look at our Southern Odyssey & Stewart Island small group tour.


The beautiful kaka is a real character of forest - this shy, medium sized parrot can be observed wild in remote tracts of forest in the central North and South Islands. Observing the kaka up close is a real pleasure and their presence in the tree canopy can be given away by the rasping sound of their beaks as they modify beech trees to suit themselves. The kaka is nationally endangered with population estimates being below 10,000.

See kaka up close: Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife centre in the Wairarapa is dedicated to the conservation of New Zealand’s endangered kaka. Take a look at our Kakapo 22-day small group tour which includes a visit here. 


Also known as the blue mountain duck, this is a bird of national significance. Its plumage is an azure, powdery blue and the whio is named for the sound of its distinctive call. A specialist swimmer, this duck is superbly adapted to life in fast flowing water and can navigate rushing rapids with ease. The blue mountain duck requires pristine, un polluted rivers flowing through remote, undisturbed wilderness in order to survive.

See Whio up close: Whio love remote, isolated places, so the easiest way to see this pretty duck is also at the Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre. Take a look at our Kakapo 22-day small group tour which includes a visit here.

At MoaTrek, many of our tours are named after New Zealand’s native birds. We incorporate the most beautiful places in New Zealand into our small group tours, showcasing the very best the country has to offer. Take a look at our website, or contact us directly