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Stewart Island - BirdForum Opus

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New Zealand


This large and heavily wooded island lies off the south coast of South Island, New Zealand and is famed among birders as the best place in the world to see kiwis. It is also home to various other New Zealand endemics and a wide range of spectacular seabirds can be seen offshore.


Notable Species

Southern Brown Kiwi can be seen more easily on Stewart Island than anywhere else in New Zealand and there are boat trips at night to Ocean Beach where the birds can be seen at close range foraging along the tideline. These kiwis belong to the endemic Stewart Island race lawryi.

Other birds likely to be seen on Stewart Island include Pacific Marsh Harrier, New Zealand Pigeon, New Zealand Kaka, Red-fronted Parakeet and Yellow-fronted Parakeet, Morepork and Sacred Kingfisher.

Passerines of note include Grey Gerygone, New Zealand Bellbird, Tui, Tomtit and New Zealand Fernbird. Weka can be seen on Ulva Island near Oban.

Fiordland Crested Penguin and Yellow-eyed Penguin can be seen in Foveaux Strait between Stewart Island and South Island and other seabirds to be found offshore include Wandering Albatross, Royal Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, Shy Albatross, Grey-headed Albatross and Buller's Albatross, both Antarctic Giant Petrel, and Hall's Giant Petrel Cape Petrel, Mottled Petrel, Cook's Petrel and White-chinned Petrel and Black-bellied Storm Petrel. Little Penguin and Sooty Shearwater can be seen at dusk at Acker's Point near Oban, where Stewart Island Shag and Spotted Shag also occur and South Georgia Diving Petrel breeds on Southwest Cape.

Kakapo and South Island Saddleback have been introduced to Codfish Island, where Cook's Petrel breeds.


Birds you can see here include:

Southern Brown Kiwi, Fiordland Crested Penguin, Yellow-eyed Penguin, Little Blue Penguin, Wandering Albatross, Royal Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, Shy Albatross, Grey-headed Albatross, Buller's Albatross (Southern, Northern), Cape Petrel, Cook's Petrel, Mottled Petrel, White-chinned Petrel, Grey Petrel, Sooty Shearwater, Broad-billed Prion, Fairy Prion, White-faced Storm Petrel (Aug-Apr), Common Diving Petrel, South Georgia Diving Petrel, Australian Gannet, Great Cormorant, Pied Cormorant, Little Pied Cormorant, Stewart Island Shag, Spotted Shag, Eastern Reef Heron, White-faced Heron, Paradise Shelduck, Pacific Black Duck (New Zealand), New Zealand Shoveler, Pacific Marsh Harrier, California Quail, Buff-banded Rail, Weka, Spotless Crake, Baillon's Crake, Variable Oystercatcher, South Island Pied Oystercatcher (non-breeding visitor) (New Zealand), Bar-tailed Godwit (Oct-Mar), Grey-tailed Tattler, Red Knot, Ruddy Turnstone, Brown Skua, Red-billed Gull, Black-billed Gull, Kelp Gull, White-fronted Tern, Antarctic Tern, Black-fronted Tern, New Zealand Pigeon, Shining Bronze Cuckoo, Long-tailed Koel, Kakapo, New Zealand Kaka, Red-fronted Parakeet, Yellow-fronted Parakeet, Morepork Owl, Sacred Kingfisher, Rifleman, Bush Wren, New Zealand Pipit, Eurasian Blackbird, Song Thrush, New Zealand Fernbird, Pipipi, Yellowhead, Grey Fantail, Tomtit, South Island Robin, Grey-backed White-eye, New Zealand Bellbird, Tui, Chaffinch, North Island Kokako, South Island Saddleback

Other Wildlife

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Site Information

History and Use

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Areas of Interest

Kiwis can be found during the day at Island Hill homestead which forms part of the North-West Circuit, a 10-day trek around the north of the island.

Access and Facilities

Unfortunately Codfish Island, off Stewart Island's west coast, is not open to the public.

Oban is the main town of Stewart Island and can be reached by air from Invercargill or by sea from Bluff.

Kiwi excursions can be arranged at Oban as well as other boat-trips.

The best seabirds are most likely off the west coast and it may be possible arrange days out on fishing boats.

Contact Details

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External Links

Content and images originally posted by Steve