12 Jan 2024

The Punakaiki petrel patrol

From Summer Times, 9:20 am on 12 January 2024

Late at night in the West Coast village of Punakaiki a dedicated team of conservationists are out rescuing Westland petrel that are at risk from overhead powerlines and vehicle headlights.

They call themselves the Community Petrel Patrol and a member each night is out on local roads after 10:30pm looking for fledgling tāiko Westland petrel stricken on a high risk section of State Highway 6.

The section of road is under the birds' flight paths to the ocean.

Members patrol on ebikes, others in their cars driving slowly looking for a black bird on a black road at night.

If they find a fledgling, they're taken in and cared for over one night before being launched from a nearby cliff the following night. 

A Westland petrel coming in to land, with its wings fully extended.

An adult Westland petrel coming in to land at the breeding grounds Photo: Bruce Stuart-Menteath