Native Birds of New Zealand

A collection of New Zealand's native birds. Explore their habitats, physical descriptions and ecological role.

Todiramphus sanctus


The Kingfisher is a small bird known for its vibrant colours and distinctive appearance. It has a striking turquoise-blue back, wings, and tail, with a white underbelly. The head is adorned with a white collar, and it has a long, sharp beak ideal for catching prey.

Anthus novaeseelandiae


The New Zealand Pipit is a small, slender bird with a length of approximately 18 centimetres. It has a streaked brown plumage on the upper parts and a pale underside, which helps camouflage it in its grassland habitats. The pipit has a long, thin bill, a short tail, and long legs, well adapted for its terrestrial lifestyle.

Porzana tabuensis

Spotless Crake

The Spotless Crake is a small, secretive bird native to New Zealand. It measures around 20 centimetres in length and has a compact body with short wings and a tail. The plumage of the Spotless Crake is predominantly brown, with dark streaks and bars on its upper parts, and lighter brown or greyish underparts.

Bowdleria punctata


The Fernbird is a small bird native to New Zealand, known for its secretive nature and muted plumage. It has a plump body, measuring around 14 centimetres in length, and a short, straight bill.

Zosterops lateralis


The Silvereye is a small, agile bird with a plump body and a length of around 11 centimetres. It has a conspicuous white eye ring that stands out against its dark eye, which gives it its name. The plumage of the Silvereye is primarily olive-green, with a lighter green or yellowish underside.

Sterna striata

Black-fronted tern

The Black-Fronted Tern is a small to medium-sized seabird with a slender body and long wings. It has white plumage on the underside, while the upperparts are pale grey. The most distinctive feature is the black cap on its head, extending to its eyes.

Charadrius obscurus


The Dotterel, is a small shorebird that has a slender body, long legs, and a short, straight bill. The plumage of the adult birds is primarily greyish-brown, with a white underbelly and a white stripe above the eye. They have a black cap on their head, and males may develop a more distinct black breast band during the breeding season.

Hymenolaimus malacorhynchos

Whio/Blue Duck

The Blue Duck, is a unique, medium-sized species of duck with a stocky build, short neck, and short bill. Adults have a bluish-grey plumage while juveniles have a more mottled appearance. They have dark eyes, strong legs, and partially webbed feet adapted for navigating fast-flowing rivers.

Petroica longipes

Toutouwai/North Island Robin

The North Island Robin is a small passerine bird with a predominantly dark grey or black plumage, with a white patch on the forehead and underparts. They have a slender black beak and dark legs.

Thinornis novaeseelandiae

Shore Plover

The Shore Plover is a small bird with a stocky build, short legs, and a medium-length bill. Its plumage is mostly white, with a black band across the breast and a black cap on the head. The upper parts are sandy brown, providing excellent camouflage in its coastal habitat. During the breeding season, the black breast band becomes more prominent.

Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae


The Tūī is a medium-sized songbird that has a glossy plumage with iridescent colours, including shades of black, blue, green, and bronze. Tūī have a distinctive white tuft of feathers at the throat, which is known as a "poi."

Gallirallus australis


The Weka is a flightless bird that has a stout body, short wings, and a long, downward-curved bill. Wekas have dark brown or reddish-brown feathers with a mottled appearance, providing excellent camouflage in their natural habitats.

Acanthisitta chloris


The Rifleman, is one of the smallest bird species in New Zealand. It measures around 8 centimetres in length and weighs only 6 to 7 grams. It has a compact body with a vibrant green plumage, which helps it blend into the forest environment.

Philesturnus rufusater


The Saddleback, is a medium-sized passerine bird with a black head, throat, and upper body, while the lower body and underparts are rich chestnut in colour. They have a stout bill, strong legs, and a long tail.

Porphyrio hochstetteri


The Takahē is a large flightless bird and one of New Zealand's most iconic and rarest species. It has a robust build with blue-purple plumage on its head and back, a greenish-blue breast, and a red frontal shield on its forehead.

Ninox novaeseelandiae


The Ruru, or Morepork, is a small to medium-sized owl species. It has a compact and stocky body with mottled brown or grey-brown plumage, providing excellent camouflage against tree trunks and branches. They have large round heads, distinctive facial disks, and yellow or golden eyes.

Xenicus gilviventris

New Zealand Rock Wren

The New Zealand Rock Wren has a short, slightly upturned beak and strong legs adapted for climbing and hopping among rocky terrain. The plumage of the Rock Wren is primarily brown or grey-brown, providing excellent camouflage against the rocky backgrounds. They have a white or pale yellow belly and distinctive yellowish-white eyebrows.

Gerygone igata

Grey Warbler

The Riroriro, or Grey Warbler, is a small passerine bird with a slender build. It has predominantly grey plumage on its upper parts, wings, and tail, with a lighter grey or whitish underside. Despite its plain appearance, the Grey Warbler is known for its melodious and distinctive song.

Diomedea epomophora

Royal Albatross

The Royal Albatross is one of the largest seabird species, known for its impressive size and wingspan. They have a white body with black flight feathers on their wings and a pinkish bill. Adults have a distinctive breeding plumage, with a golden-yellow head and neck.

Tadorna variegata

Paradise Shelduck

The Putangitangi, or Paradise Shelduck, is a large, distinctive waterfowl species. Males and females have different plumage. The male has a dark green head and neck, a chestnut body, and white wing patches. The female has a white head and neck with a dark brown body.

Circus approximans

Northern Harrier

The Northern Harrier, is a medium-sized raptor with long, broad wings and a long tail. Males have a greyish-brown colouration on their upper parts, a pale head, and a white rump. Conversely, females have a brown colouration overall, with streaks and bars on their underparts.

Mohoua novaeseelandiae


The Pipipi is a small, insectivorous bird with a slender body and a slightly curved beak. It has a brownish colouration on its upper parts, with streaks of lighter brown and a pale underside.

Porphyrio melanotus


The Pūkeko is a large bird with a deep blue body, a black head, and a red bill and frontal shield. The legs and feet are long and sturdy, adapted for walking and wading in wetland habitats.

Mohoua albicilla


The Whitehead, is a small bird with a compact and robust body. It has a round head, a short beak, and a distinctive white head and throat, contrasting with the dark grey-black colouration of its upper parts.

Chrysococcyx lucidus

Shining Cuckoo

The Shining Cuckoo is a small bird with a slender body and a curved beak. It has a predominantly olive-green plumage with a metallic green or bronze iridescence on its upperparts. The underparts are pale with dark barring. They have a long tail, which is often held upright in flight.

Rhipidura fuliginosa


The Pīwakawaka, or Fantail, is a small insectivorous bird known for its distinctive fan-shaped tail and acrobatic flight. It has a compact body with a round head and a short, thin beak.

Mohoua ochrocephala


The Mohua, or Yellowhead, is a small songbird with distinctive plumage. It has a vibrant yellow head, hence its common name, contrasting with an olive-green upper body and a pale yellow belly.

Petroica macrocephala


The Tomtit is a small passerine bird with distinctive plumage and markings. It has a compact body, a round head, and a relatively large head compared to its body size.

Leucocarbo onslowi

Chatham Island Shag

The Chatham Island Shag is a large seabird belonging to the cormorant family. It has a predominantly black plumage with a glossy appearance. During the breeding season, adults develop a white crest on their heads and have a distinct greenish sheen on their feathers. They have a long, slender neck, a sharp beak, and webbed feet.

Cyanoramphus auriceps


The Kākāriki, known as the New Zealand Parakeet, is a small to medium-sized parrot with bright and vibrant plumage. There are several species of Kākāriki, each with its unique colouration. Generally, they have a mix of green, yellow, and red feathers, with some species displaying patches of blue or orange.

Ardea modesta

White Heron

The White Heron is a graceful and elegant bird with stunning white plumage. It has a long, slender neck, a sharp, pointed beak, and long legs.

Apteryx australis


‍The Kiwi is a flightless bird and an iconic symbol of New Zealand. It has a unique appearance with a round body, small wings, and no tail.

Hemiphaga novaeseelandia

Kererū/New Zealand Pigeon

The Kererū, also known as the New Zealand Pigeon, have a plump body, white belly, and iridescent green or blue-green feathers on their back and wings. Kererū have a slow, heavy flight and make a distinctive whooshing sound as they fly.

Nestor notabilis


he Kea is a large species of parrot known for its striking plumage and intelligent behaviour. They have predominantly olive-green feathers, with bright orange feathers under their wings.

Strigops habroptila


The Kākāpō is a large, flightless bird with moss-green feathers that provide excellent camouflage in the forest. Kākāpō have a round body shape, short wings, and a large beak.

Nestor meridionalis


The Kākā has predominantly olive-brown feathers with touches of red on the underparts. The face and forehead are adorned with orange, red, and grey feathers. They have a strong beak and long tails.

Eudyptula minor

Little Penguin

Little Penguin is the smallest species of penguin, standing about 30 centimetres tall and weighing around 1 kilogram. They have dark blue-grey plumage on their back and white plumage on their belly. Their wings are short, and their flippers are narrow, adapted for swimming.

Callaeas cinereus


The Kōkako has bluish-grey feathers, a long, elegant tail, and a dark mask around its eyes. The most striking feature of the Kōkako is its vibrant blue wattles, which hang down from either side of its beak.

Falco novaeseelandiae

New Zealand Falcon

The New Zealand Falcon, is a medium-sized raptor with a robust build and powerful wings. They have sharp, hooked beaks and strong, taloned feet.

Notiomystis cincta


The male Stitchbird has striking plumage with a black head, back, and wings, while the belly and chest are bright yellow. The female is similar but with less vibrant colours. They have a slender beak and a small white tuft on the shoulder.

Megadyptes antipodes

Yellow-Eyed Penguin

The Yellow-eyed Penguin have a unique appearance with distinctive yellow eye stripes extending from the eyes to the back of their heads. Their plumage is primarily blue-grey on the back and white on the belly.

Anthornis melanura


The Bellbird, known as Korimako, is a medium-sized songbird with vibrant olive-green plumage and a metallic sheen.