21 Feb 2011

Hundreds expected to farewell godwits

6:04 am on 21 February 2011

Hundreds of people are expected to farewell the godwits at Christchurch's Southshore Spit on Sunday evening.

Each year, the birds migrate 11,000 kilometres between New Zealand and Alaska - the longest non-stop flight by any bird.

A new feature this year is a guest speaker, Keith Woodley, a godwits expert, who will address the spectators before inviting them to see the birds close up.

Over the next month, about 2000 godwits will start their week-long return journey to Alaska.

Christchurch City Council park ranger Andrew Crossland says public interest in the godwits has grown since people started welcoming and farewelling the birds 10 years ago.

He says fewer than 100 people used to turn out to farewell the birds, but it's now closer to 1000 who turn out.