Tūī are endemic to Aotearoa and are relatively abundant in areas with good predator control. They feed mainly on nectar from flowers and native plants and can be recognised by their distinctive blue/green feathers and white tuft at their throat. Remember to add the macron/potai on the ū and ī, otherwise it means ‘stitch’.
Click here to hear the tūī call (credit: DOC)
Kererū is a large wood pigeon characterised by iridescent blue/green plumage and a white breast. The kererū have a relatively long life span of 20 years (and only nest one chick per year subject to food availability so populations can be really effected by mammalian predators, such as rats which target their food source of fruit, nuts and seeds, as well as their chicks.
Click here to hear the kererū call (credit: DOC)
Kākā belong to the parrot family and are characterised by claws and hooked beaks as well as olive-brown colouring. Kākā are at risk in Aotearoa and abundant mainly on off shore islands but through predator free efforts are more and more common across Wellington They are boisterous birds which are often heard before they are seen.
Click here to hear the kākā call (credit: DOC)
Titipounamu (rifleman) belong to the wren family and are very small birds weighing only 6-7 grams. Recently a pair of titipounamu flew over the Zealandia ecosanctury fence in Wellington and began breeding in a nearby suburb - a big win for these little birds who are vulnerable to predation. they communicate with a high pitched buzzing sound ‘zipt zipt zipt’ and are often found looking for insects or flitting in the trees.
The Piwakawaka (fantail) is one of the most common birds across Aotearoa. It has four subspecies - one from each of the South Island, North Island, Chatham Islands and one extinct sub species from Lord Howe Island. Characterised by its fan-like tail feathers, this energetic bird makes a recognisable ‘cheet cheet’ and feeds mainly on insects.
Click here to hear the kererū call (credit: DOC)
Kākāriki (parakeet) means ‘small green parrot’ in te reo Māori. There are four main species of kākāriki; Yellow-crowned parakeet, Orange-fronted parakeet, Red-crowned parakeet, Forbes’ parakeet, Antipodes Island parakeet and all are characterised by slightly different plumage. They are forest birds which nest in the holes of trees and feed on berries, fruit, seeds and insects.
Click here to hear the Red-crowned parakeet call (credit: DOC)
Ruru (morepork) are a small brown owl that are known for their haunting melancholic call and are seen as the watchful guardian in Māori tradition. They are nocturnal birds of prey which are found in forests across Aotearoa and although not considered threatened, face the risk of predation.
Click here to hear the Morepork call (credit: DOC)
Kārearea (bush falcon) is NZ’s endemic falcon and with only 3000-5000 breeding pairs remaining, it is the country’s most threatened bird of prey. Kārearea are capable of flying at speeds over 100 km/h and hunt live prey, often larger than itself, by watching from a vantage point and then making a fast attack.
Tuatara means ‘peaks on the back’ and is the name belonging to Aotearoa’s largest reptile. Tuatara live for around 60 years and their species are the last survivors of an order of reptiles that lived in the dinosaur age! Rats are considered the most serious threat to the survival of the tuatara.
The Moko Kakariki (Wellington Green Gecko) is endemic to NZ and found specifically in the lower North Island. They are green with white/yellow spots, however, the inside of their mouths are bright blue! They are nocturnal so hunt during the night for flies and moths and their bright green colour helps them to camouflage in their preferred forest habitat - making them hard to spot. These beautiful lizards are at risk and declining due to predation and make a defensive barking call when they are threatened.
The Copper Skink is one of 78 species of skink in NZ (although new ones are always being discovered). They are active in the daytime and can be found hiding in areas with adequate ground cover such as under logs and rocks so are commonly spotted in people’s gardens. They are NZ’s smallest skink and their black/brown exterior is characterised by a narrow copper-coloured strip.
The Tree Wētā is the most common of 7 wētā species in NZ with the Wellington Tree wētā found across Wellington specifically. Once hatched from their eggs, tree wētā take 1-2 years to reach adulthood and shed their exoskeleton 10 times during those development years. They are nocturnal, feeding on fruit and leaves at night and often found in groups. Similar to cicadas they can sometimes be heard at night scraping their hind legs over ridges on their body because this is how they communicate.
The Cook Straight Giant Wētā are one of NZ’s largest endemic Wētā. Similar to other species of wētā they shed around 9 times before reaching maturity, feed on vegetation at night along the forest floor. The Cook Straight wētā are one of Wellington’s conservation success stories as they were reintroduced onto the NZ mainland at ZEALANDIA Te Māra a tāne ecosanctuary for the first time in 2007. They have a lifespan of 2 years and female wētā lay around 200 legs in their second year, however, this species is vulnerable because it is preyed on by predators such as rats and hedgehogs.