Your Christmas Shopping for a Song

Date posted: 04-Dec-2017

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

2018 Photo Comp opens for entries

Date posted: 27-Nov-2017

The 2018 Photo Competition is now open for entries. Click here (/2018-photo-competition-tiritiri-mat..

New reports on ruru nesting and Island conservation

Date posted: 02-Oct-2017

Two new reports have been added to the website. The first gives details of a summer students..

2018 calendars now available

Date posted: 27-Sep-2017

Our latest calendar, beautifully illustrated with images taken on the Island, is now available fo..

Guided walks for photographers

Date posted: 21-Jun-2017

For a wonderful day of wildlife photography please join us on Tiritiri Matangi Island for a Ph..

Ferry discounts for Supporters

Date posted: 18-May-2017

Tiritiri Matangi Island, the perfect winter's day trip. The birds are at their best, warm up w..

More kiwi for the Island

Date posted: 04-Apr-2017

In 1993 and 1995, sixteen little spotted kiwi were released on Tiritiri Matangi Island. The ma..

2017 Photo Competition

Date posted: 22-Mar-2017

It is that time of year again when we are looking for entries for our photo competition (and phot..

The 2017 concert

Date posted: 05-Feb-2017

This year's concert promises to be another wonderful and unique experience. Click here (/concert-..

Shorebird Film Festival at Devonport

Date posted: 26-Oct-2016

Click here (/miscellaneous documents/DevWaderFilms.jpg) for details of a forthcoming film festival c..

Paradise Shelduck

Scientific name:

 Tadorna variegata

Maori Name:




Conservation status:

 Endemic. Not threatened

Mainland status:



 63cm, 1700g (male) 1400g (female)


 Average 2.3 yrs, but oldest banded bird lived to 23 years. Officially classed as game birds under the Wildlife Act.


 August - December


 Grass, seeds, aquatic vegetation

Paradise shelduck, male - photographer: Max McRaeA large goose-like duck with orange-chestnut undertail and tertials. The male has a black head with a greenish gloss and a dark grey finely barred black body. Some males have white feathering around their eyes. The female has a white head, and a bright orange-chestnut body, obscured by darker fine barring in eclipse plumage. In flight both have prominent white patches on the upper wings.

They are very vocal; the male call is a ‘zonk-zonk…’, and the female call a shrill ‘zeek-zeek’. They are usually seen in pairs or flocks on farmland, lakes, ponds and high-country riverbeds. All birds gather at traditional moult sites in December–February, and disperse again in March–April.

'DAPHNE' - photographer: Simon FordhamBreeding is between August and December and birds pair for life. The nest of grasses, lined with down feathers is usually built in hollow logs, burrows, rock crevices, under exposed tree roots, or in a tree hole up to 25 metres above the ground. The clutch of 5–15 white eggs is incubated by the female for 30-35 days. Once the eggs have hatched, the chicks are led to open water, which can be over a kilometre away; they fledge at about eight weeks old.

Paradise Shelduck graze on grass and clover, grass seeds and weed seeds, and stubble or standing crops of peas or grain, causing damage to young pasture, hay and grain crops. They also eat aquatic vegetation.

There is at least one pair of paradise shelducks on Tiri, usually in the vicinity of the Ranger's house and bunkhouse. Another pair often frequents the north end of the Island near the Silvester Wetlands. Unfortunately, although they often hatch 2-3 broods per year, they hardly ever manage to rear the chicks beyond the first two or three weeks. The large numbers of pūkeko, which are often aggressive towards the ducklings, are probably to blame for this.

Find out more about paradise shelduck at New Zealand Birds Online.

Photography by: Max McRae © (above right, male paradise shelduck), Simon Fordham © (left, female paradise shelduck) and Kay Milton © (right, pair of paradise shelduck).

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