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The Landing’s Rarest Birds

December 17 2018

The Landing is home to thousands of native birds. We take a closer look at six of the more unusual species you might spot when at The Landing. 


Well known as New Zealand’s national icon, the flightless, nocturnal kiwi is an ornithological curiosity. About the size of a domestic hen, it has loose, hair-like feathers, a long beak and the largest egg-to-body-size-ratio of any bird. It is the only bird known to have nostrils at the end of its beak and, unusually among birds, has a keen sense of smell that allows it to sniff out food. There is now a thriving population of this precious endangered bird at The Landing and its screeching cries are frequently heard at night. Kiwi-spotting night walks can be arranged with The Landing team on request.

WEIWEIA (Dabchick)

The New Zealand dabchick is a member of the grebe family, a species of lobed-toe freshwater diving birds. They lay their eggs in floating nests anchored to reeds or overhanging vegetation. If disturbed, these shy birds will sometimes sink under the water, leaving only their heads exposed.

PATEKE (Brown teal)

This highly endangered small dabbling duck is one of New Zealand’s rarest waterfowl species, with fewer than 1000 now living in the wild. The Landing was used as a breeding area for brown teal as part of the Department of Conservation’s brown teal recovery program.

PUTANGITANGI (Paradise duck)

The paradise duck is New Zealand’s only member of the worldwide shelduck family, large semi-terrestrial goose-like ducks. The females have white heads and chestnut bodies, while males are dark grey with black heads. Pairs mate for life and return annually to the same nesting place.

TOREA–PANGO (Variable oystercatcher)

These rare protected red-billed birds are black with variable front plumage, which ranges from pied to mottled to all black. They feed on shellfish and worms and nest on the shore between rocks or in shallow sand scrapes. In flight they make a high-pitched ‘kleep kleep’ sound.

DOTTEREL (New Zealand Plover)

The endangered New Zealand dotterel are small shorebirds, found on sandy beaches and sandspits. Mostly pale grey-brown, they have off-white underparts, which become flushed with rusty-orange in winter and spring. Staunchly protective, dotterels commonly try to distract intruders near their nest by feigning injury – often a broken wing.