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The White-fronted tern is the most common tern on the New Zealand coastline. They occasionally forage up rivers, but are rarely found far from the coast. The White-fronted tern is a medium-sized, long-tailed sea Tern that is common around New Zealand coasts. It is pale grey above and white below, with a black cap that is separated from the bill by a white band. White-fronted terns feed on small fish at sea or up rivers. The New Zealand population has been in decline over the last 40 years.



This large black-and-white shag is often mistaken for begin a penguin, seen individually or in small groups roosting on rocky headlands, trees or man-made structures. Pied shags are found to forage and breed primarily around coastal habitats, throughout much of New Zealand. Pied shags feed mainly on fish which are between 6-15cm long, and occasionally on Crustaceans. The fish they eat are Flounder, Mullet, Eel, Goldfish, Perch, Goatfish, Kahawai, Wrasse and Common Trevally.



Compared with typical Cormorants, the Spotted shag is a light-coloured bird, with a brown back. Spotted shags nest in colonies of 10-700 pairs, these colonies are generally found on the ledges of coastal cliffs. Their diet consists of small fish and marine invertebrates, including Squid and Plankton. They feed in deep water and have been found 16km offshore.


You cannot miss these wee fella’s striking long straight orange bills! Often spotted on our cruises, up the rocky coastal edges, looking rather mischievous.

Giant Northern


The Hyenas of our ocean! Not very pretty scavengers that even growl when they feel threatened. Aggressive and opportunistic, these birds will eat anything dead or alive from birds like our little White-flippered penguins & Albatross, to New Zealand Fur seals and even whales.



The Buller’s mollymawk is one of the more abundant small Albatrosses occurring around coastal areas of New Zealand. Their striking black-and-golden-yellow bill and smart black-and-white plumage make them readily identifiable. They love flying behind fishing boats trying to get a free feed.



You might hear them fluttering past your ear before you see them, with their distinctive sound in flight. They’re generally sighted in large flocks, up to thousands at a time. Here in Akaroa Harbour, we see them feeding on schools of fish or groups of crustaceans on the water surface, which would be commonly Kahwai and Krill here.




The Southern black-backed gull (or ‘Black-back’) is one of the most eco-rich and familiar large birds in New Zealand. Adults have a white head and underparts, with a black back, yellow bill with red spot near tip of lower mandible, and pale green legs. They can be found throughout most habitats in New Zealand, excluding forest and scrub.




Endemic to New Zealand, these waterfowl are noisy, colourful and rather conspicuous. Their population has taken decades to heal again after they were excessively hunted in the past, but now they’re a great spot. We just love how the female and male plumages are contrasting, all ready to waddle down the catwalk. We also discovered a connection between humans and these ducks! Males have a deep goose-like honk, while the female has a much more shrill, rapid & persistent sound. Does that not sound familiar to you?


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