A collection of Our Changing World stories featuring New Zealand birds

New Zealand is a land of birds. We might not have a large number of species – just 252 – but many of our birds are endemic, or found only here, a testament to the country’s small size and its isolation. New Zealand birds are some of the most unusual and intriguing in the world – they include the largest seabirds, the flightless nocturnal kakapo and kiwi, globe-trotting shorebirds and many more. Our Changing World has featured many New Zealand birds over the years, as well as the people who study them, and here is a selection of those stories.


Forests and Islands

New Zealand has 91 species of land birds – and 85 of them occur nowhere else in the world. They range from the tiny rifleman, a member of an ancient group of songbirds, to the kakapo, the world’s heaviest parrot, and include our unique flightless kiwi.

yelloweyed penguin

Sea and Shore

New Zealand is seabird capital of the world – 86 of the 360 species of seabird in the world breed in the New Zealand region, including 38 that breed nowhere else. And our shorebirds are world-record holders, too – bar-tailed godwits, for instance, are the world’s greatest migrant, making epic non-stop flights between Alaskan breeding grounds and their New Zealand wintering-over sites.


Mountains and Rivers

New Zealand’s young mountains and its fast-flowing rivers are home to rare birds with unusual lifestyles, such as whio, our whistling torrent duck.

Kiwi zone sign

Bird Conservation Projects

Many of New Zealand’s birds are threatened and require a helping hand – and there are numerous conservation projects around the country aiming to restore habitat and give birds a safe home.


Some of the birds that feature in these stories

More About Birds on RNZ

External Links