New Zealand wildlife

Photo: Karl Anderson

New Zealand wildlife

Ancient reptiles, unique bird species, abundant marine life and a commitment to conservation make New Zealand an amazing destination for wildlife encounters. Native plants and animals evolved undisturbed for millennia. The nation's long isolation means many species are endemic to these isles – an incredible 80% of native plants and 71% of native birds are found nowhere else in the world!

Native Birds

Australasian gannet Called Takapu in Maori, the Gannet is a handsome seabird seen in large colonies. Bellbird A bush-dwelling nectar eater with a beautiful melodious song. Fantail Also called Piwakawaka, the curious and friendly fantail is easily recognised by its fan-shaped tail. Kakapo The endangered Kakapo is the heaviest parrot in the world: nocturnal and flightless, this unusual bird climbs trees with its beak and claws. Kea The world’s only alpine parrot inhabits the Southern Alps. Kiwi New Zealand’s most famous native bird and the country’s national symbol is also one of its most unusual: flightless and nocturnal, the kiwi mates for life and the male performs most of the egg-incubation duties. Little Blue Penguin This is the world’s smallest penguin. In the evening you can spot it as it comes ashore to its burrow. New Zealand woodpigeon (kereru) A large and beautiful bird with a very distinctive heavy wing beat. Paradise duck A large handsome duck usually seen on open grassland. Pukeko With unmistakable cobalt plumage, the Pukeko is a favourite subject for kitschy Kiwiana objects! Tūī A large black bird with a white cravat, the Tūī is a clever mimic with a sweet voice. Weka This large, flightless bird has a feisty personality! Keep an eye on your sandwiches, as it may brazenly steal your food!

Other Animals

Hector’s dolphin The world’s smallest and rarest dolphin, found only in New Zealand. New Zealand fur seal This is New Zealand’s most common seal – find it basking along the coast. Tuatara A unique reptile that has existed since the age of the dinosaurs, the Tuatara is now found only in protected areas and zoos/wildlife parks. It can live to be 100 years old.


NZ Info

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