2020 Photo competition now open

Date posted: 15-Jan-2020

This year's photo competition is now open for entries. Please click here (/m..

AGM 2019

Date posted: 09-Sep-2019

Our Annual General Meeting was held at 7:30 pm on Monday 23rd September at the F..

More plaudits for Tiritiri Matangi

Date posted: 15-Jul-2019

Recognition of the wonderful experience visitors have when visiting the Island h..

Results of the 2019 Photo Competition

Date posted: 15-Jul-2019

The results of this year's competition have now been decided. Click here (/2019-photo-co..

Lighthouse Open Day

Date posted: 30-Apr-2019

Our historic lighthouse, signal station and diaphonic foghorn will all be on dis..

We need a new Treasurer

Date posted: 08-Apr-2019

The Supporters need a new treasurer to take over in September when Kevin Vaughan..

2019 Concert

Date posted: 05-Feb-2019

OrigiNZ, the tartan taonga are returning for the 2019 concert. Click..

Tiri's three unique foghorns

Date posted: 01-Feb-2019

Our next social event will take place on Monday 18th March when Carl Hayson and ..

Young Conservation Superstars win awards!

Date posted: 27-Jan-2019

Gabriel Barbosa and teacher Kate Asher, a team leader who co..

Entries for the 2019 photo competition

Date posted: 19-Jan-2019

We are now taking entries for the 2019 photographic competition. You can enter u..


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.