The Big 5: Our top 5 feathered sights to see in New Zealand!

Posted by Cathy Taylor on 15 November 2013 | Comments

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Forget Africas' "Big 5", it’s been done! Here are the “big 5” feathered sights in New Zealand and which Walking Legends tour you should take in order to see them!

#1: The call of the North Island brown kiwi

To really increase your chances of hearing a kiwi call in its’ natural habitat join our Lake Waikaremoana guided walk. We spend our first night at Waiharuru Hut on the lake shore, situated directly alongside the predator-proof enclosure belonging to the Lake Waikaremoana Kiwi Restoration Project. From its’ inception in 1994 the project has increased kiwi numbers in the area from just 24, to 200. Keep your ears tuned just after sunset for a ‘creeee  creeeee,’ that’s the kiwi call!

 #2: The blue duck or whio (fee-oh)

The whio is the Mick Jagger of the duck world! Endowed with a unique pair of fleshy lips, the whio sustains itself by sucking algae from the river rocks. Armed with a jaunty whistle, instead of a quack, the call of the whio is often mistaken for fly fishermen on the river. See the worlds’ strangest whistling duck on our Waikaremoana Discovery Tour!

 #3: The New Zealand Falcon (karearea)

Plantation pine forest in New Zealand is an important habitat for the falcon. Only 38 falcon species exist in the world, and New Zealand is home to just one of those! Instead of building a flimsy, tree-top nest, this forest giant gouges a divet in the dirt, usually under a rock outcrop, to hold its’ eggs. Although a fully protected species, the falcon still comes under threat from human development in the form of logging and wind farm construction. The view from Red Crater, the highest point on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing Day Walk, gives a “birds-eye view” of these magnificent predators as they soar over the plains.

#4: The North Island kaka

You’d be forgiven for thinking that all parrots are bright, colourful residents of tropical isles more at home in a coconut tree than the subtropical coastal forest of Aotea Great Barrier Island! Special because it retained many of its prehistoric features when the continents broke apart 100 million years ago, this endangered native parrot likes to join a boisterous flock of other kaka in the early morning or late evening to socialise. Guests at our boutique lodge at Shoal Bay on the Great Barrier Island Escape are often treated to displays of amusing antics by these intelligent, cheeky birds. They are also much larger than those that are found on the mainland!

#5: The tui

Resplendent in his white cravat and dark coat-and-tails, the tui could give Pavarotti a run for his money! With a wonderfully melodic range of calls including a whistle, click, chuckle, gurgle and trill the tui is a common sight in the pohutukawa and rata trees of the Coromandel in the summer months. Join our Coromandel Explorer Tour and hear the one bird-call that really epitomises native New Zealand bush!