An official send-off has been given to godwits in Canterbury on Sunday before the birds make their annual flight north.
Every September about 70,000 godwits, also known as kuaka, come from their northern summer breeding grounds in Alaska to New Zealand.
In March they make their return journey of up to 15,000 kilometres.
Spokesperson for Canterbury Ornithological Society Jan Walker says the birds will head north in groups of about 30.
She says during the next three weeks the birds will head to the Yellow Sea in northern China on their way to Alaska.