Archives For sirocco

There are only 124 kākāpō left in the world and I have been waiting to see one up close and personal ever since I started working at DOC. I have seen the fans going crazy for kākāpō online, even voting them as the ‘World’s Favourite Species’ in a recent poll. They are a native New Zealand bird that I just had to meet.

I was glad to find out that Sirocco the kākāpō would be visiting Zealandia sanctuary in July. Sirocco has been touring New Zealand for a few years now and this was my chance to get close to one of the few remaining kākāpō left.

To say I was ‘excited’ is probably an understatement. When Zealandia announced the visit I got on their website immediately and booked my ticket for opening night. The anticipation only grew throughout June as Sirocco’s face popped up all over town and in the local newspapers and television.

A sign for Sirocco's Zealandia visit at the Wellington Railway Station. Photo by Elizabeth Marenzi.

Sirocco, world famous in Wellington

The night finally arrived. It was a cool but calm one, and luckily the earthquakes from the previous couple of days had quietened down. The night tour started with a screening of part of Alison Balance’s documentary ‘To Save the Kākāpō’ where we were introduced to Sirocco and the respiratory illness that almost took his life. Sirocco developed this condition while very young and was hand-raised, which has led him to imprint on humans. This makes him very comfortable around people (some might say too comfortable).

After the film the Zealandia guide took us into the sanctuary, making sure we checked all our bags and pockets for any stowaway pests that might harm the creatures that call Zealandia home. My bag was predator free (if a little messy) so we headed out into the night and up the track to see Sirocco.

The track along the way was beautifully lit up with fairy lights. While we walked I chatted with some of the other visitors in the group. I was surprised to find people had come from all over New Zealand, as well as the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan.

Fairy lights up the path to Sirocco's enclosure. Photo by Jo Moore.

Lights lead the way to Sirocco

Sirocco spends his days at Zealandia in a specially fenced off section of forest and at night he comes out into a display area. When we finally arrived at Sirocco’s display area he was already hopping around at the glass peering through to suss out his newest visitors. There was a group of children who he immediately ran to. Sirocco loves children and, at 16 years old, he is not much more than a child himself.

Over the next 30 minutes the DOC ranger told us all about the lifestyle of the kākāpō and about the efforts being undertaken to bring them back from the brink of extinction. Everyone managed to get a good view of Sirocco as he wandered the enclosure.

Sirocco in his viewing enclosure at Zealandia Sanctuary. Photo: Janice McKenna.

Sirocco meets his fans

On the way back down the track we were treated to some high pitched kiwi calls that resonated around the sanctuary. Seeing a kākāpō and hearing kiwi calls all in the same night was a great experience, something I hope becomes more commonplace throughout New Zealand.

If you are in Wellington in the next few weeks I would recommend you head along and cross this unique experience off your bucket list.

Sirocco on display at Zealandia Sanctuary. Photo: Janice McKenna.

Sirocco smiling for the camera

Sirocco at Zealandia:

Memories to last a lifetime – the night you met a kākāpō! Don’t miss this rare chance to meet Sirocco the kākāpō at Zealandia – just 10 minutes from Wellington city. Book your date now on the Zealandia website.

This week’s photo of the week was shared by Sirocco Kakapo, after the recent death of Fuchsia the kākāpō on Codfish Island/Whenua Hou:

Skraaarrk! We are now 124. Fuchsia kākāpō was as lovely as the native flower she was named after and I am so very sorry that she is no longer with us.

Three kotukutuku flowers hang from a branch at Catchpool, near Wellington. Photographer: Tandy, Brent.

The dazzling purple, green and pink colours of our native fuchsia, known as kotukutuku, have been captured beautifully in this photo. Taken at Catchpool, near Wellington, by Biodiversity Ranger Brent Tandy, it is a special reminder of the life and passing of a lovely old kākāpō.

Send us your photos

If you have a great, conservation related photo you want to share with the world (or at least the readers of this blog) send it through to us at

Although kakapo didn’t win Bird of the Year in 2011, they certainly took out top honours on the Conservation Blog. Nine out of our top ten posts are exclusively, or in part, about this much loved New Zealand parrot. 

#10 Notes from an island sanctuary

This fantail chick lives right outside Chris' lounge

This recent post was the first from our new ranger on Maud Island, Chris Birmingham. You loved hearing about his life on the island, which is also home to Sirocco the kakapo. We’re all looking forward to hearing a lot more from Chris in 2012.

#9 Kakapo ‘curse’ hits breeding season – but more eggs to come

Kakapo chicks

Containing some of the first news of the 2011 kakapo breeding season, as well as a cute kakapo pic, this post promised to be a crowd favourite – and it was!

#8 Animal Health Board staff help save kakapo

We love our kakapo stories, and this one – told by Jane Sinclair of the Animal Health Board, who was lucky enough to win a trip to Whenua Hou/Codfish Island – was no exception.

#7 Mini miracles as kakapo chicks pull through

Kakapo chick, just hours old

The 2011 kakapo breeding season had us all on the edge of our seats. With so few of these beautiful and charismatic birds left, we held our collective breath as news came in from Codfish Island about each and every mating, egg and hatching.

The DIY egg – stuck together with glue and masking tape after kakapo Suzanne stood on it – was one of your favourite stories of the season.

#6 The great ‘kiwi in Russia’ mystery!

Special Agent Kiwi

Remember the kiwi that mysteriously turned up in the Russion port of Sochi back in May? Oh, that’s right, it was actually a common bittern. Never-the-less, it provided the material for this tongue in cheek story that appealed to the conspiracy theorist in us.

#5 Jobs at DOC: Spokesbird for Conservation, Sirocco the kakapo

Munchin' on a kumara-pop

Our ‘Jobs at DOC’ series provides behind the scenes insights into the jobs and the personalities of DOC workers. The post about our very own spokesbird for conservation, Sirocco the kakapo, was by far your favourite of these, taking out 5th place in our top 10. 

#4 Vote now! Remix the sounds of NZ competition

The grand finale of our New Zealand Music Month competition was always going to be popular. In it, our judges – Sirocco the rock star kakapo and Simon the mad morepork owl – played and commented on the top five tracks and then left it over to you, our savvy readers, to pick the winner.

#3 What New Zealand native species are you?

Native species quiz

This native species determination chart was the star of our Conservation Week series.

Over 3,000 people took the fun and fact filled test and, interestingly, we discovered that readers of the Conservation Blog are overwhelmingly kea!

#2 The world’s first takapo eggs

Our April Fool’s day post, about the world’s first takapo eggs being discovered on Maud Island, was a huge hit.

Haggis and Sirocco with their newly found eggs

Almost 5,000 of you have read and shared this fun and far fetched story.

#1 Remix my mates during NZ music month and make me a bona fide rock star!

To celebrate New Zealand Music Month, and to raise the profile of New Zealand’s avian songsters, Sirocco the kakapo put out the call for the musically talented to remix the sounds of New Zealand’s unique birds.

Sirocco the rockstar kakapo

This post received over 3,500 views in one day, and thousands more since then, making it the clear winner of our most popular post of the year.

What was your favourite?

Our top 10 blog posts for 2011 were chosen based on the number of people who viewed them. Do you think this accurately reflects the best of the blog?

Do you have a personal favourite that you’d like to comment on (that either did or didn’t make it onto our top 10 list)? We’d love to hear from you.