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..

Eastern bar-tailed godwit

Scientific name:

 Limosa lapponica baueri

Maori name:




Conservation status

 Migrant shorebird

Mainland status:

 Widely distributed round coast in summer


 39-41 cm, 300-350 g


May-August in Alaska   


Marine and terrestrial invertebrates 

Total population:

 c. 90,000 during NZ summer

The eastern bar-tailed godwit is a migrant shorebird that breeds in Alaska and spends the northern winter (our summer) in eastern Australia and New Zealand.

It is a tall wader, streaked brown above and on underwings, with pale breast and belly in non-breeding plumage. It has a long, slightly up-turned bill, which is pink at the base and black at the tip. In breeding plumage the bird is more colourful (see photo below left), a warmer, more richly-marked brown above and bright rufous on neck, breast and belly. Birds can be seen in both breeding and non-breeding plumages in New Zealand, and at all stages in between, but most of their time here is spent in non-breeding plumage.

Godwits are famous for their long-distance migrations, which can involve non-stop flights of thousands of kilometres. Their arrival in and departure from New Zealand has come to symbolise the passing of the seasons, and 'farewell' and 'welcome' ceremonies are held at some locations.

They feed on marine and terrestrial invertebrates, including worms, molluscs and crustaceans, probing in mud and soft ground with their long bills. For this reason they favour mudflats in estuaries and inlets as their winter habitat and tend to congregate around the New Zealand coast wherever such habitats occur. 

They are not normally seen around Tiritiri Matangi because the Island has none of their favoured habitat, but they can be seen at other locations around the Hauraki Gulf.

As a long-distance migrant, the bar-tailed godwit needs protection in several different countries - New Zealand, Australia, Alaska, and its refuelling sites in China and on some Pacific Islands. Only concerted international cooperation can ensure the safety of this bird throughout its range.

Discover more about the eastern bar-tailed godwit at New Zealand Birds Online.

Photographs: Martin Sanders ©

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