Bird watching in New Zealand: feathered beauties in Rotorua’s forests

Rotorua’s native forests are home to plenty of birds, most of them unique to NZ. Here are some of our favourite visitors to the Dansey Road Scenic Reserve.

North Island robin/ toutouwai

The North Island robin was thought to be extinct in 1905. Some serious conservation efforts (including those in our local forest) after a surprise rediscovery, means these birds are now back in abundance.  Dansey Road Scenic Reserve (home of Rotorua Canopy Tours) is an ideal breeding ground for these tiny birds as it is pest-free.

Trusting and friendly by nature, these grey-coloured birds often come close to people. We have a concession to feed them and they typically come down and feed off your hand when on tour with us. If you’re keen on bird watching in New Zealand, these feathered beauties should definitely be on your list.

Tomtit/ miromiro

Similar looking but smaller than the North Island robin, tomtits have an important place in the Maori culture. They figure in many rituals, from birth to death.

Tomtits were once endangered but are another species making a strong comeback due to conservation efforts. You’ll see these black and white beauties commonly in our forest – listen out for their squeaky wheelbarrow-like sound. This is another bird we have a concession to feed – enjoy as part of your adventures with us.

Wood Pigeon/ kereru

The wood pigeon is one of the most common birds in our forests; hardly one you can miss when you’re out bird watching in New Zealand. They love visiting our forest, especially in the warmer months when native trees are fruiting in the forest.

Watching the wood pigeons drink water is quite interesting – they do so without raising their heads, which for a bird is quite unusual. Wood pigeons are also the only native bird large enough to eat the big fruit of some of our important native forest trees.

Shining cuckoo/ pipiwharauroa

These stunning long-tailed birds are summer visitors to parts of New Zealand, including Rotorua’s native forests. They fly thousands of kilometres to lay their eggs. The shining cuckoo lays eggs in other birds’ nest and leaves them there to be brought up. As the season turns and days become shorter, these birds fly back to their island homes with their chicks.

The shining cuckoo reveals its presence by their characteristic call; although only a lucky few actually manage t spot them in the forest.

Grey Warbler/ riroriro

Another widely distributed New Zealand bird, the grey warbler is small – weighing only about six grams (that’s nearly the same as a teaspoon of sugar!) These tiny birds are also referred to as the rainbird, it sings in chorus before it is going to start to rain.

Tui/ koko

The boisterous tui are distinguished by their almost-black heads, underparts, wings and tails that have an iridescent blue and green sheen especially on the head and wings. They are medium-sized birds are commonly found around New Zealand. Tuis are known for their loud call and complicated mix of tuneful notes interspersed with coughs, grunts and wheezes.

You can see these native birds on a Canopy Tour! Don't miss.