Stewart Island offers some of the best land and sea birding in New Zealand. Bird watchers come from all over the world to enjoy our birds. Largely unmodified, the Island provides excellent habitat and food for native birds.  Unlike other areas of New Zealand, it has not suffered the introduction of mustelids. The sea surrounding the Island is rich in food and attractive to a large number of seabirds.

 Stewart Island RobinUlva Island is a jewel in the crown offering a predator-free environment for rare and endangered birds including South Island saddleback, mohua, rifleman, Stewart Island robin.

Birds, which are often seen on Stewart Island and Ulva Island, include bellbird, tui, kaka, tomtit, grey warbler, kakariki and the New Zealand wood pigeon.  Some of our birds are unique to the region and include the weka, robin and fernbird.

The Stewart Island Brown Kiwi or the Southern Tokoeka, Apteryx australis lawyri - is one of six identified species of kiwi.  Kiwi are flightless and largely nocturnal. However, the Stewart Island Brown Kiwi is active during the day and night.  Kiwi outnumber humans and it is estimated there are 20,000 on Stewart Island.  They are not always easy to see, shying away from humans and rarely coming close to inhabited areas.

Seabirds abound in our coastal waters due to the rich supply of food.  Albatross, mollymawk, prion, petrel, cormorants and blue penguin are regularly seen.  Sooty shearwater are seen in large numbers during their breeding season.

Please respect our wildlife and especially Kiwi - do not approach them within 5 metres or disturb them in anyway.

The following list of birds to be found on and about Stewart Island was originally compiled by the late Ron Tindall and was revised and updated by Matt Jones in 2018.



Species Latin name Māori name Notes

Stewart Island Brown Kiwi

Apteryx australis lawryi

Tokoeka Fairly common & occasionally diurnal

Fiordland Crested Penguin

Eudyptes pachyrhynchus

Tawaki Fairly common summer breeding migrant
Snares Crested Penguin Eudyptes robustus   Rare autumn visitor
Yellow-eyed Penguin Megadyptes antipodes Hoiho Present all year
King Penguin Aptenodytes patagonicus   Very rare visitor from the south
Blue Penguin Eudyptula minor Korora Present all year
Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans   Not a common visitor
Northern Royal Albatross  Diomedea sanfordi   Less common than the Southern Royal
Southern Royal Albatross Diomedea epomophora Toroa Fairly common
Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophris   More of a spring visitor
Campbell Island Albatross Thalassarche impavida   More of a spring visitor
Buller's Albatross
(Southern & Pacific)
Thalassarche bulleri   Common / tricky to see during Dec/Jan
Grey-headed Albatross Thalassarche chrysostama   Very rare visitor from the south
NZ White Capped Albatross  Thassarche cauta steadi   Very common
Salvin's Albatross  Thalassarche cauta salvini   More common during summer months
Chatham Island Albatross Thalassarche eremita   Very rare visitor / seen early spring
Light-mantled Albatross Phoebetria palpebrata Toroa pango Very rare visitor / winter more likely
Northern Giant Petrel Macronectes halli Nelly Common
Southern Giant Petrel Macronectes giganteus Nelly Not very common / winter more likely
Southern Fulmar Fulmarus glacialoides   Very rare visitor from the south
Cape Petrel Daption capense   Fairly common
Mottled Petrel Pterodroma inexpectata Korure Summer breeder / can be tricky to see
White-naped Petrel Pterodroma cervicalis   Very very rare / one recorded on Stewart Island which was the most southern record ever...
White-headed Petrel Pterodroma lessonii   Not a common visitor /
spring & autumn more likely
Grey-faced Petrel  Pterodroma macroptera Oi Not common
Soft-plumaged Petrel Pterodroma mollis   Not a common visitor /
spring & autumn more likely
Cook's Petrel Pterodroma cookii Tītī Fairly common
Gould's Petrel Pterodroma leucoptera   Very very rare /
one recorded on Stewart Island
Broad-billed Prion Pachyptila vittata Parara Not common / Stewart Island is one of the best places to see this bird
Fairy Prion Pachyptila turtur Tītī wainui Fairly common 
Antarctic Prion Pachyptila desolata   Not very common
Blue Petrel Halobaena caerulea   Very very rare visitor from the south
White-chinned Petrel Procellaria aequinoctialis Shoemaker Fairly common
Westland Petrel Procellaria westlandica Taiko Not very common
Great Shearwater Puffinus gravis   Very very rare /
one recorded on Stewart Island
Buller's Shearwater Puffinus bulleri   Visitor from the north / not common
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus Tītī Very common breeder /
less likely to be seen during winter
Short-tailed Shearwater Puffinus tenuirostris   Common during spring /
seen amongst the Sooties
Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia   Not very common
Hutton's Shearwater Puffinus huttoni   Becoming more common /
seen amongst the Sooties
Subantarctic Little Shearwater  Puffinus assimilis   Very rare visitor from the south
Wilson's Storm Petrel Oceanites oceanicus   Not very common
Grey-backed Storm-Petrel  Garrodia nereis   Probably the most common Stormie around Stewart Island
White-faced Storm-Petrel Pelagodroma marina Takahikare-Moana Unusual visitor
Black-bellied Storm-Petrel Fregetta tropica   Not very common
Common Diving Petrel Pelecanoides urinatrix Kuaka Fairly common

Australasian Gannet

Morus serrator

Takapu Unusual visitor
Black Shag Phalacrocorax carbo Kawau Not very common
Pied Shag Phalacrocorax varius Karuhiruhi Very common
Little Black Shag Phalacrocorax sulcirostris   Rare visitor this far south
Little Pied Shag Phalacrocorax melanoleucos Kawaupaka Very common
Spotted Shag Phalacrocorax punctatus Parekareka Very common
Foveaux Shag Leucocarbo stewarti   Formerly Stewart Island Shag, now split from mainland Otago Shag.  Fairly common.
Great White Egret Egretta alba Kotuku Unusual visitor /
a few Stewart Island records each year
White-faced Heron  Egretta novaehollandiae   Very common
Pacific Reef Heron Egretta sacra Matuka Moana Not very common /
more likely during winter
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis   More common during winter particularly at Ringa Ringa golf course
Australasian Bittern Botaurus poiciloptilus Matuku Breed on Stewart Island in the wetlands towards Mason Bay
Glossy Ibis Plegadis facinellus   A freshly dead bird found at Horseshoe Bay beach June 2017 / first record for Stewart Island
Royal Spoonbill Platalea regia   Becoming more common particularly in Paterson Inlet
Black Swan Cygnus atratus   Common in Paterson Inlet
Paradise Shelduck Tadorna variegata Putangitangi Very common
Chestnut-breasted Shelduck Tadorna tadornoides   Very rare Australian vagrant
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos   Very common
Pacific Black Duck Anas supercilliosa Parera Not unusual /
check for Mallard hybridisation

Swamp Harrier

Circus approximans Kahu Common

New Zealand Falcon

Falco novaeseelandiae

Karearea Not very common /
more likely during winter
RAILS and WEKA      
Stewart Island Weka Gallirallus australis   More common on Ulva Island than Stewart Island
Baillon's Crake / Marsh Crake Porzana pusilla affinis Kotoreke Breed on Stewart Island in the wetlands towards Mason Bay
Australasian Coot Fulica atra   Very rare visitor from the mainland /
one confirmed Stewart Island record
Pukeko Porphyrio porphyrio   Rare visitor from the mainland

South Island Pied Oystercatcher

Haematopus finschi

Torea Fairly common

Variable Oystercatcher

Haematopus unicolor

Torea, Toreapango Very common
Pied Stilt Himantopus himmantopus leucocephalus Poaka Very uncommon visitor
Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles   Common
New Zealand Dotterel (Southern) Charadrius obscurus Tuturiwhatu One of New Zealand's rarest birds /
best place to see them is Mason Bay
Double-Banded Plover Charadrius bicinctus Tuturiwhatu Fairly common
Bar-Tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica Kuaka Many spend summer on Stewart Island before heading back to Alaska to breed
Far-Eastern Curlew Numenius madagascariensis   Very rare visitor /
one confirmed Stewart Island record
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres   A few spend summer on Stewart Island
Sanderling Calidris alba   Very rare visitor
Wrybill Anarhynchus frontalis Ngutu pare /
Ngutu parore
Rare visitor from the mainland
Common Sandpiper Tringa hypoleuco   Mega rare vagrant

Arctic Skua

Stercorarius parasitcus   Unusual visitor
Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarines   Very rare visitor
Brown Skua Stercorarius antarcticus Hakoakoa Common breeding bird /
tricky to see during winter

Kelp Gull

Larus dominicanus

Karoro Very common

Red-billed Gull

Larus scopulinus

Tarapunga Very common

Black-billed Gull

Larus bulleri

  Unusual visitor from the mainland

Black-fronted Tern

Sterna albostriata

Tarapiroe Autumn is the best time to see this bird

White-fronted Tern

Sterna striata

Tara Very common
Common Tern Sterna hirundo longpennis   Rare vagrant

Antarctic Tern

Sterna vittata

  Becoming increasingly difficult to see
Arctic Tern

Sterna paradisaea

  Rare migrant from northern hemisphere / easily overlooked among WF Terns
Feral Pigeon Columba livia   Very rare visitor from the mainland

New Zealand Pigeon

Hemiphaga novaseelandiae

Kereru, Kukupa, Parea Very common endemic

South Island Kaka

Nestor meridionalis

  Very common endemic
Kakapo Strigops habroptila   No longer on Stewart Island

Red-crowned Parakeet

Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae

Kakariki Common on Stewart and Ulva Islands

Yellow-crowned Parakeet

Cyanoramphus auriceps

Kakariki More common on Ulva Island than Stewart Island

Shining Bronze Cuckoo

Chrysococcyx lucidus

Pipiwharauroa Summer migrant with distinctive call

Long-tailed Cuckoo

Eudynamys taitensis

Koekoea Summer migrant /
normally heard rather than seen


Ninox novaeseelandiae

Ruru Common breeder

Sacred Kingfisher

Halcyon sanctus

Kotare Easy to see at Mill Creek where they breed / not very common elsewhere

South Island Rifleman

Acanthisitta chloris Tītipounamu Easiest seen on Ulva Island /
tricky to see on Stewart Island

Eurasian Skylark

Alauda arvesis

  European introduction / easy to see near Ringa Ringa golf course

Welcome Swallow

Hirundo neoxena   Occasionally seen flying around township /
does not breed on Stewart Island
White-throated Needletail /
Spine-tailed Swift
Hirundapus caudacutus   Rare vagrant /
at least three Stewart Island records
Dusky Woodswallow Artamus cyanopterus   Mega rare / New Zealand's only record at Traill Park on Stewart Island, 24th September 2014

New Zealand Pipit

Anthus novaeseelandiae

Pihoihoi Breeds at Mason Bay /
common around township during winter
Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina novaehollandiae   Very rare overshot from Australia / only two confirmed Stewart Island records
New Zealand Fantail

Rhipidura fuliginosa

  Very common endemic


Prunella modularis

  Very common European introduction
Eurasian Blackbird

Turdus merula

  Very common European introduction
Song Thrush

Turdus philomelos

  Very common European introduction
Stewart Island Fernbird

Bowdleria punctata stewartiana


Easily seen on walk to Mason Bay

ROBINS and CHATS      

South Island Tomtit

Petroica macrocephala

Ngiru-Ngiru Fairly common endemic

Stewart Island Robin

Petroica australis

Toutouwai Easily seen on Ulva Island and on walk to Mason Bay

Mohoua ochrocephala

Mohoua Much sought after endemic only found on Ulva Island

Brown Creeper / Pipipi

Mohua novaeseelandiae

Pipipi Fairly common endemic found on Ulva Island and Stewart Island

Grey Warbler

Gerygone igata

Riroriro Very common

Zosterops lateralis

Tauhou Very common

New Zealand Bellbird

Anthornis melanura

Korimako, Makomako Common endemic


Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae

  Common endemic

South Island Saddleback

Philesturnus carunculatus Tieke Rare endemic only found on Ulva Island


Fringilla coelabs

  Very common European introduction

European Greenfinch

Carduelis chloris

  Common European introduction

Common Redpoll

Carduelis flammea

  Fairly common European introduction

European Goldfinch

Carduelis carduelis

  Least common of European introduced finches, but the most attractive

House Sparrow

Passer domesticus

  Very common European introduction

European Starling

Sturnus vulgaris

  Very common European introduction

Australasian Magpie

Gymnorhina tibicen

  Uncommon visitor from the mainland

Emberiza citrinella

  Fairly common European introduced bunting (the poor man's Yellowhead!)

Download a PDF version of the bird list

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