New Zealand is known worldwide for having some of the most pristine and untouched natural landscapes, from its stunning alpine views, to ancient forests to beaches of every shape and size, it’s no wonder that millions of visitors flock here each year to get a glimpse of this beauty. But those incredible environments are also home to some very unique and often endangered creatures, and of course, dominated by birds. Here are 10 native New Zealand species you might encounter on a walk here.
The pīwakawaka or fantail is one of the most common and well-known birds in New Zealand, and one you’ll likely encounter on many walks around the country. Curious and unafraid, they often fly right up to you and greet you with a chipper call that’s unmistakable and sometimes they’ll even follow you on walks in the forest.
The wētā is perhaps one of the most unique and weirdest species found in New Zealand, a bug that has been around since before the dinosaurs and can even survive being frozen alive. Spiky and fairly intimidating in looks, these generally gentle creatures come in 70 variations that can be found around New Zealand and can be seen on many walks here.
New Zealand’s cheeky alpine parrot, the kea is a crowd favourite and can be found loitering and causing mischief in alpine environments. Beautiful green birds that are too smart for their own good, they are threatened from various including predation, car accidents and even lead poisoning. A great treat is to see one at the top of a mountain or after a hike on the South Island, and they are very inquisitive towards people; you might see one on the Hooker Valley Walk at Mount Cook.
A local New Zealand favourite, the tūī is a stunning bird that can be found in many of New Zealand’s native forest. You often hear their distinctive calls and singsong voice before you see them, and they are easily recognisable with the white feather on their chest.
Hector's dolphins are the world’s smallest dolphins and can be found roaming along New Zealand’s shores, if you know where to look. Recognisable with their unique curved dorsal fin, they haunt the shores of the Bank’s Peninsula, the Catlins and along the southern coast of the South Island, and are very threatened.
Rated as one of New Zealand’s best Day Hikes, the 19 kilometre return track out to the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers is worth every step. These beautiful and unique birds call the stunning coastal cliffs in the Hawke’s Bay home for part of the year, and is the most accessible colony of gannets in the world.
A collection of New Zealand creatures would be incomplete without mentioning the iconic kiwi. Nowadays, between being nocturnal and rather rare, it’s often hard to spot them on your average hike or walk in the bush, but there are plenty of places where you might hear them at night, like in Northland, or have a higher chance of seeing them on a nighttime walk at predator-free ecosanctuary or on an offshore island, like Kapiti Island.