North Island Stories and Tips

Wildlife

One of two unknown bird species Photo, North Conway, New Hampshire

The north island of New Zealand does not seem to have much wildlife – other than birds which are plentiful and very varied. We saw lots of cormorants, kingfishers, herons and hawks, many wading birds as well as a few species unknown to us, on our travels.

The Kiwi – New Zealand’s national bird – is on the point of becoming extinct and is protected. It lives in scrub and native grasslands, is a very shy bird, semi-nocturnal, flightless and the size of a domestic fowl, weighing between 3-9 lbs. It has no tail, 2” virtually useless wings, and long slender bill which has two nostrils at the top. It also has very sharp three toed feet which can kick and slash an enemy and can outrun a human. Many New Zealanders have never seen a Kiwi bird, but we noticed a couple of places where they can be viewed in captivity – one being in Rotarua.

Possums, which were released in 1837 to establish a fur industry, are in abundance, many ending up as road casualties. With over 70 million of them at large they are decimating New Zealand’s bush and birdlife – including the Kiwi.

The majority of deer in New Zealand are farmed for their meat. We came across quite a few of these farms on our travels and the general opinion was that any “wild” deer are escapees from such farms.

We also noticed that pull-ins seemed to have resident fowl scratching around. We do not know if these were wild or domestic, but they seem to survive by being fed by stopping motorists and all looked very healthy and plump.

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