15 Jul 2019

Parts of Coromandel to become safe sanctuaries for migratory birds

10:52 am on 15 July 2019

Parts of the Coromandel are set to become protected as part of a World Heritage site for New Zealand migratory birds including godwits and red knots.

Weary young godwits arrive at Foxton Beach  after 11-thousand kilometre journey

Weary young godwits arrive at Foxton Beach after 11,000km journey (file photo). Photo: Courtesy Phil Battley

The birds make a 12,000km journey from the Coromandel to the Arctic during their annual migration, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage have welcomed their sanctuaries becoming safer.

"New Zealanders care deeply about backing nature and backing birds like the godwits and red knots. It's fantastic that the stopping points of shorebirds like the godwit and red knots on their annual flightpath from the Firth of Thames to Alaska are on track to have enhanced protection and recognition," Ms Sage said.

"These tiny birds - the godwit weighing only 300 to 600g and red knots a minuscule 100g - make this epic annual journey from Miranda to and from their Arctic breeding grounds with only one stop en route in China's Yellow Sea to feed."

The particular sites the birds use will be part of a Yellow Sea World Heritage proposal to be developed by China with support from other partners in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership.

An agreement signed in May commits the Department of Conservation to work with China's National Forestry and Grassland Administration to protect, manage and restore wetlands where these birds stop to feed on their travels.

The flight path for the birds extends from Awarua Bay in the south of New Zealand and crosses China on its way to the North Slope in Alaska.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs