Hihi volunteer needed

Date posted: 18-Oct-2018

Would you like to volunteer with the Island's hihi team and learn from them how ..

2019 Calendars now available

Date posted: 05-Sep-2018

The new 2019 calendars are now available and this year's is better than ever! Th..

Winners of kokako photo competition

Date posted: 02-Sep-2018

The stunning winning photographs from those submitted to the competition as part..

Kokako Celebration

Date posted: 21-Jul-2018


Kokako Photographic Competition

Date posted: 20-Jul-2018

KĊŒKAKO PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITION Celebrating 21 years on Tiritiri Matangi To ce..

New monitoring reports published

Date posted: 19-Jul-2018

Reports on monitoring studies carried out over the past year have now been poste..

2018 Concert coming up soon

Date posted: 15-Feb-2018

Our 2018 concert will feature an afternoon of light classics and jazz courtesy of the Auckland Ph..

Wetapunga talk coming soon

Date posted: 05-Feb-2018

For the Social on 19 March the speaker will be Ben Goodwin of Auckland Zoo, who will talk about t..

Rat caught and now takahe released from pens

Date posted: 28-Jan-2018

Thankfully DOC staff Andre de Graaf and Polly Hall and their assistants have trapped the rat whic..

Your Christmas Shopping for a Song

Date posted: 04-Dec-2017

Aka - The Grand Christmas Shopping Expedition to Tiritiri Matangi Island Shop Dreading..


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.