Top 10 native species of 2015

Department of Conservation —  31/12/2015

We look back at our native species that have captured the attention of the internet world this year.  Here are the top ten most visited species on the DOC website during 2015.

#10: Short-tailed bat/pekapeka

The endangered short-tailed bat makes a scrambled effort in at number ten. It’s one of the few bats in the world that spend large amounts of time on the forest floor, using folded wings as ‘front limbs’ for scrambling around. New Zealand’s bats are rapidly heading towards extinction caused by rat plagues.

#9: Giant wētā/ wētāpunga

Wētā have been around long enough to see dinosaurs come and go and to evolve into more than 70 different species, all of them endemic to New Zealand. The giant wētā is the largest and when fully grown they can be heavier than a mouse.

Giant wētā. Photo by Mike Aviss.

Giant wētā.

#8: Morepork/ruru

Number 8 on our countdown is the morepork/ruru – New Zealand’s only surviving native night owl, known for its haunting and moody call. Morepork are commonly found in forests throughout mainland New Zealand and on offshore islands.

New Zealand morepork footage from NZWildWings

New Zealand morepork. Footage: NZWildWings (

The internet loves owls, especially tiny owls sheltering under tiny umbrellas.

#7: Takahē

The flightless takahē (once thought to be extinct) enters our countdown at number 7. Today the takahē remains critically endangered.

It’s been a good month for a retired takahē pair. They are now spending their late days at the Wairakei Wildlife Sanctuary alongside a luxury golf course in Taupo.

#6: Longfin eel

The eel slinks it’s way into the 6th top spot. The longfin eel is one of the largest in the world and it is found only in the rivers and lakes of New Zealand. They are rare and heavily affected by human activities, such as pollution, loss of vegetation near their habitat, and overfishing.

Longfin eels. Photo by Phillipe Gerbeaux

Longfin eels.


The bird you usually hear before you see comes in at number 5. These clever birds are often confusing to the human ear as they mimic sounds such as the calls of the bellbird. They combine bell-like notes with harsh clicks, barks, cackles and wheezes.

Tui. Photo by Janice McKenna

Tui. Photo by Janice McKenna

#4: Kākāpō

The kākāpō  didn’t take out New Zealand’s Bird of the Year competition (or our countdown) this year, but Sirocco’s Kākāpō‘s online support continues to grow. This year, Sirocco got to meet blogger, world traveller and ‘bird nerd’ Young Adventuress. You can read all about their meeting on her blog.

Liz (Young Adventuress) meets Sirocco at Zealandia

Liz (Young Adventuress) meets Sirocco at Zealandia

#3: Kea

They’re a curious bird, and curious internet users –  The kea was the third most searched species of 2015.

A sodden kea surveys the rugged terrain at Browning Range on the West Coast. Photo: John Gibson, (DOC)

A photo posted by Department of Conservation (@docgovtnz) on Aug 1, 2015 at 5:44pm PDT

#2: Tuatara

Coming in at number two is our very own ancient reptile that thrived in the age of the dinosaurs.This year, the tuatara received the royal treatment through a close encounter with Prince Charles himself.

#1: Rowi

Rowi, the rarest species of kiwi, wins the prize for the top searched species of the year. Rowi are critically endangered with an estimated population of around 450 confined to Okarito forest in South Westland. The rowi kiwi team are working on their recovery.

Jo MacPherson with a young rowi chick

Jo MacPherson with a young rowi chick

8 responses to Top 10 native species of 2015


    The morepork/ruru clip #8 has been taken from my Youtube chanel (Bird Dance – Little Morepork at Bird Rescue) without asking or including a credit to NZWildWings.


    Love the gifs, especially of the kakapo. I’m really keen to see a Weta in the wild, especially a big one. I live in the south island. What kind of areas would they be found in?


      There are a few caves in Kahurangi National Park from the west side through Karamea I think inside the Oparara Basin Arches where you can see them. All we saw were the cave spiders. Dozens and dozens of them. Nightmares.


      The largest weta you will find in the wild would be Cave wetas (don’t always live in caves). Giant Weta are mostly restricted to offshore islands and sanctuaries. I recommend you pay a visit to your nearest sanctuary (Tiritiri Matangi, Zealandia, etc) and if possible go on a guided, night tour.


    I think you meant there are 400-500 Rowi, not 4,500