Primary School Science Conservation 2020 Award

Date posted: 18-Dec-2020

Dylan Lewis Y7 from Mahurangi College, Warkworth, being presented with the ..

Supporters of Tiritiri Inc and Fullers 360 Science Conservation 2020 Award

Date posted: 18-Dec-2020

The NIWA Auckland City Science and Technology Fair winner of the Supporters of Tiritiri ..

2020 Conservation Week

Date posted: 12-Aug-2020

Meet the Takahē on Tiritiri Matangi Island When: 1:30 pm, ..

AGM 2020

Date posted: 25-Jul-2020

PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF DATE TO WEDNESDAY 21ST OCTOBER 2020 due to Covid restrictions at t..

Ferry Resuming July 4th!

Date posted: 01-Jun-2020

Great News!!! We have confirmation Fuller360 ferry service to Tiritiri Matangi wi..

The 2020 Photo Competition Winners

Date posted: 22-May-2020

Here are the winning and commended photos from this year's competition. Congratulations to the photo..

Celebrate the Takahe Art Competition

Date posted: 08-Apr-2020

Hi Tiri Kids, It’s TakahÄ“ Awareness Month! Everyone loves our takah..

COVID-19 Important Information

Date posted: 25-Mar-2020

The government has announced that New Zealand is now at alert level 2 for COVID-19. Th..

2019 Winner Primary School Supporters of Tiritiri and Fullers 360 Science Award is Ethan Raymond

Date posted: 11-Mar-2020

Ethan has helped the Enviro-Warriors in many ways such as planning, gard..

2019 Winner Y8-Y13 NIWA Supporters of Tiritiri and Fullers 360 Science Award is Abby Haezelwood

Date posted: 11-Mar-2020

Abby Haezelwood with her winning Science Exhibit on Plastic Beaches at the NIWA Taihoro Nuk..


Scientific name:

 Todiramphus sanctus vagans

Maori Name:




Conservation status

 Not threatened

Mainland status:

 Common throughout NZ


 24cm, 65g


 Not known


 October - January


 Invertebrates, mice, small birds

Kingfisher - photographer: Dr Kerry RodgersThe New Zealand kingfisher, also known as the sacred kingfisher, is the only species of kingfisher native to New Zealand.  The Kookaburra, another of the 86 species of kingfishers worldwide, is the only other bird of the kingfisher family found in New Zealand, although rather scarce.  

The kingfisher is a brightly coloured bird, deep green-blue on the head and upperparts.  Pale yellowish buff underparts and a creamy white collar around the  neck. Long, dark, broad bill and black eye with a yellowish buff eyebrow that starts at the bill and finishes above and beyond the eye.

The dagger-like bill is used in the breeding season to excavate a tunnel in an earth bank by repeatedly flying at the bank at full speed, neck outstretched and uttering a peculiar whirring call.  Once the tunnel has started and the hole is big enough to perch in, the kingfisher then continues to excavate the tunnel by pecking and scooping out the loosen earth.  The tunnel is sloped slightly upwards and ends with a chamber for the nest. 

Despite their name, kingfishers do not necessarily eat fish.  They tend to populate coastal areas but some are entirely terrestrial.  Those around the coastal waters eat small crabs and fish, in fresh water they'll eat tadpoles, freshwater crayfish and other small fish.  In the open country they eat earthworms, cicadas, weta, stick insects, dragonflies, chafer beetles, other beetles, spiders, lizards, mice and small birds (especially silvereyes).  The Tiritiri Matangi kingfishers are often observed feeding on skinks.

Learn more about the kingfisher at New Zealand Birds Online.

Photography by: Dr Kerry Rodgers ©

References: Heather, B.D.; Robertson, H.A. 2000 The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. Auckland, Viking.