The Takahe bird is one of many New Zealand endangered species. Once considered an extinct flightless bird of New Zealand, it was rediscovered in the mountains and can now be found on the open sanctuary island of Tiritiri Matangi, along with a few other spots in the country.
One of the really great things about New Zealand is the birds. Being an isolated island with no indigenous mammals (except bats), birds flourished, including flightless birds like the kiwi and the takahe. Then came the humans, and with them predators – some as stowaways (rats and stoats), others as farm animals or pets. Many birds became extinct before they could be protected. Overall, birdlife in New Zealand flourished and today, New Zealand is known as the seabird capital of the world according to the Department of Conservation.
Declared extinct in 1898, Takahe were rediscovered in New Zealand in 1948. In 1991 a pair was released on Tiritiri Matangi, a bird sanctuary island of New Zealand, which is a 20-minute ferry ride from Gulf Harbour or an hour from Auckland. In their protected environments, takahe are doing well yet still remain on the list of critically endangered birds.
Getting to TiriTiri Matangi
TiriTiri Matangi is an island, therefore a boat is required to get there. Private boats can dock during the day, or overnight. However, the surrounding anchorages are not well protected from the elements, making it more often a day sail.
There is a ferry that starts in Auckland, stopping in Gulf Harbour on the way. It runs only one time per day in each direction and is a fabulous day out. There is an optional guided walk that we highly recommend, as the guides are experts at spotting birds that we might miss. The island is protected, and visitors are expected to take all their trash off the island.
More About Takahe:
- Takahe’s classified is critically endangered. Once considered extinct, they were rediscovered in the Murchison Mountains (Fiordland) on the South Island of New Zealand in 1948.
- Takahe birds are endemic to in New Zealand.
- Although they are flightless, a male Takahe bird will display his wings during courtship or as a show of aggression.
- Takahe are similar in size to large hen.
- They have an interesting song, which you can hear here.
- Read more about takahē from the New Zealand Department of Conservation.
Where Else to See Takahe in New Zealand
As a family we have been very lucky, having seen Takahe in four New Zealand locations:
- On the North Island, we have seen takahe at Zealandia in Wellington and on Tiritiri Matangi (featured on this page). Also, Sarah found takahe tracks at Tawharanui Regional Park while camping with friends.
- On the South Island, we spotted takahe at Orokonui Ecosanctuary.