The top species of 2016

Department of Conservation —  30/12/2016

In what has become an unofficial tradition, we countdown the most visited species on the DOC website for 2016. Let’s take a look:

14. Kererū

Kererū can measure up to 51 cm from tail to beak, and weigh about 650 g. Over 11,900 kererū were spotted as part of the annual Great Kereru Count this year!


Photo: Josie Beruldsen

13. Bellbird/korimako 

It’s great to see the bellbird/korimako on our list. With summer underway you can expect to hear their chorus in a tree near you. Captain Cook described the birds as sounding ‘like small bells exquisitely tuned’. Listen to the bellbird sing here.

12. Kekeno/fur seal 

Kekeno haven’t had the best year. As a result of the Kaikoura Earthquake, a colony at Ohau Point looked to be destroyed. However, there’s hope for the colony after a large number of pups were seen nearby.


11. Korora/little penguin

Life got a whole lot easier for little blue penguins this year with the introduction of the penguin underpass in Oamaru. This underpass helps provide safe passage for the penguins from the harbour to their nests across the busy road. It’s already very popular!

10. New Zealand geckos 

Wellington green gecko

Photo: Andrew Morrison

The Wellington green gecko is threatened and is classified as being in gradual decline. It is only found in the southern half of the North Island. In September, Wellington City Council announced their partnership with Greater Wellington Regional Council and NEXT Foundation to work towards the goal of making Wellington, New Zealand’s first predator-free city. #PredatorFree2050

9. Tūī

Fancy tūī in your garden this summer? You can plant a variety of native trees and shrubs to provide a year-round food supply for tūī. Plants need to be carefully selected so there are flowers and fruit at different times. Tūī can also be attracted to feed at troughs full of sugar-water.


Image by Janice McKenna.

8. Pīwakawaka/fantail

Pīwakawaka make the countdown at number 9. The fantail is one of the few native bird species in New Zealand that has been able to adapt to an environment greatly altered by humans. Originally a bird of open native forests and scrub, it is now also found in exotic plantation forests, in orchards and in gardens!


7. Maui dolphin 

Research and scientific studies continue to increase our knowledge about Māui dolphin ecology, conservation status, life history, and threats. The information is required to ensure that Māui dolphin can be managed for their long-term viability and recovery throughout their natural range.

If you are in the North Island and think you’ve seen a Māui or Hector’s dolphin this summer, report it straight away to our emergency hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).


c0j5l6bukaa9spc6. Wētā

When giant weta/wetapunga are fully grown, they can even be heavier than a mouse or sparrow. Here’s DOC’s Threatened Species Ambassador, Nicola Toki on a recent visit to Hauturu-o-Toi / Little Barrier Island.

5. Ruru/morepork

A great fact: They can turn their head through 270 degrees.

4. Tuatara 

As featured on the New Zealand Herald, Otago University scientists have spent the last 5 years sequencing the tuatara’s entire genome. In an unexpected twist, the tuatara genome carried ancient links to the mammalian tree from which humans come from.

3. Kiwi 

It’s no surprise that our kiwi come in at number 3. In July, the Government announced the adoption of the Predator Free New Zealand 2050 target to help kiwi and our other natives thrive.

Ridding New Zealand of possums, rats and stoats by 2050 is a New Zealand-wide goal. It will require new techniques and a co-ordinated team effort across communities, iwi, and the public and private sectors.


Photo: Lauren Buchholz

2. Pekapeka/bats 

Our only native land mammal comes in at number two. This year, the Battle for our Birds programme has been underway to protect our most vulnerable native species, including pekapeka.

Colin O’Donnell talks here about the success of the Battle for our Birds programme on bat populations:

1. Toroa/Northern royal albatross 

The northern royal albatross #RoyalCam at Taiaroa Head as captivated the hearts and minds of YouTube watchers worldwide. Communities have watched Moana get her name, grow up, and make her first flight out to sea. Thanks for the memories Moana.



Moana is named live on #RoyalCam

2 responses to The top species of 2016


    Excellent summary – thanks.


    Ah the kea, where is the kea? the last couple of months I have been in some well known kea areas but did not sight these wonderful birds – where have they gone?