New Zealand’s creatures of the dark…
After dark there are many native New Zealand creatures that come alive including the iconic kiwi, morepork (NZ owl), teal duck, weta, spiders…
Many are threatened and difficult to see and hear however there are places which give the keen nature lover a better than average opportunity to view.
Conservation islands and ‘mainland’ islands aim to protect and restore natural habitats and provide the right environment for many of this country’s native and endemic (many endangered) creatures of the night.
It is thanks to the islands that much of the wildlife has survived, as predators, such as rats and possums have been easier to control in these environments. More recently some of this wildlife has been transferred back to areas that have been made predator free and ‘mainland islands’ have been created, making it much more achievable for those keen to see NZ’s nocturnal life; although knowing what to listen for and a touch of luck, or good local knowledge, is an important element.
Close to Auckland one such ‘mainland island’ exists, Tawharanui, just a little over an hour from Auckland City.
Tawharanui has become a great success story since the predator fence was erected some 10 years ago, followed by the eradication and continual monitoring of pests. Visitors to this beautiful spot are spoilt by the stunning location and the great abundance of native NZ birdlife during the daytime. By night the whole environment changes with opportunities to see some of the following, subject to the whim of the wildlife!
North Island Kiwi – flourishing with numbers increasing, the high-pitched call of the kiwi is often heard and if lucky seen.
Morepork (NZ owl) – a silent flyer but often seen perching in a tree and sometimes, with a keen eye, flying by.
Pateke (brown teal) – the fourth rarest waterfowl in the world, numbers are improving at Tawharanui.
Weta – love them or find them somewhat creepy! These creatures are very intriguing.
Moths, spiders – plenty of the nocturnal species to spot on a nightwalk! NZ has over 1650 species of moth, 85% endemic.
Gecko – a little harder to spot but fun looking for them in the dark! These intriguing creatures give birth to 2 young in the late summer. They vocalize, some chirp and the green gecko makes a sound more like a ‘bark’.
Some other nocturnal creatures, which are found on islands or other locations around NZ, include the tuatara, three species of tiny bats which are native to NZ, the kakapo – many very elusive.
Some of these creatures may not be the easiest to spot on a dark night but it is a real adventure being out searching and you never know what you just might discover around the next corner!
Habitat Tours run a day/night nature tour, we can almost guarantee that you will see the brown teal, weta, spiders and have around a 70% success rate spotting kiwis and morepork – plus all the amazing daytime birds.
Tristan Cullen - Passionate Conservationist