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..

Northern Giant Petrel

Scientific name:

Macronectes halli



Conservation status

Native seabird, naturally uncommon

Mainland status:

No breeding colonies on mainland New Zealand


90 cm, 4.5 kg




Mid-August to February (fledging) 


Penguins, squid and fish, dead marine animals 

The northern giant petrel is one of the largest petrels, larger than some albatrosses. Adults are mottled greyish brown with a paler face, a pinkish bill with large tube nostrils. Juveniles are darker and less mottled with yellowish bills. The bill looks almost too large for the size of the bird's head. This, coupled with the pale eye (in adults) gives them what some have described as a rather sinister appearance.

The aggressive males, in particular, have a reputation as voracious predators and scavengers. The prey on penguins and other birds, including albatross chicks and even adult albatrosses. The scavenge on dead penguins, other birds and marine mammals. Females have slightly different feeding habits, focusing on squid, fish and crustaceans taken from thesurface of the sea.

Northern giant petrels occur throughout the circumpolar region and nest on islands in the South Atlantic and southern Indian Ocean as well as on the Chathams, the Antipodes, Campbell Island and the Auckland Islands. The New Zealand breeding population is around 2500. They nest on the surface in a cup-shaped nest of tussock and other vegetation. The females lays one egg in mid-August to early September. The egg hatches after 60 days and the chick fledges at around 112 days old. Birds start to breed at the age of around 10 years.

Tiritiri Matangi is a long way from the giant petrel's breeding grounds, but through winter into early spring they range widely, as far north as 28 degrees south. Giant petrels are occasionally seen from the coastal path on Tiritiri Matangi. One, in August 2011, was seen from the East Coast Track associating with a small fishing boat.

Find out more about the Northern Giant Petrel at New Zealand Birds Online.

Photos: Martin Sanders ©

Reference: Heather, B. and Robertson, H. The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand, Viking 2005.