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..

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..

Shore Plover

Scientific name:

 Thinornis novaeseelandiae

Maori Name:




Conservation status: 

Endemic. Nationally critical

Mainland status:

No mainland breeding sites 


20 cm, 60 g 


Over 20 years recorded 


October - January  


Invertebrates and small fish  

Total population:

Less than 200 adults in early 2013  

Shore plovers once nested around the coast of Mainland New Zealand, but introduced mammalian predators caused their extinction everywhere except the Chatham Islands. They are one of the world's rarest shorebirds, with only around 65 breeding pairs (2013). 

They are brown above and white below, with a bright orange bill and legs. The eye-ring is also orange and the bill has a black tip. Their most distinctive feature is a dark face mask (black in males, dark brown in females) which extends over the throat and around the neck; there is a white band above the mask below the brown crown.

They forage for invertebrates in a range of coastal habitats - from rocky platforms to sandy beaches and estuaries - and also eat small fish. They nest under the cover of vegetation or rocks. Eggs (usually three) are laid from October to January and incubated for about 28 days by both parents working in shifts (male at night, female mainly during the day). Fledging can take over 60 days if food is scarce, but is normally between 35 and 45 days.

The breeding population of shore plovers has fluctuated over the years, from as low as 50 pairs in the early 1990s to as many as 94 pairs in the wild by 2010, only to decline, due to predator incursions, to around 65 pairs in 2013. Since the 1990s, a captive breeding programme has released over 400 individuals (by 2013) on predator-free islands. The birds are very mobile, however, and have been known to return to their captive breeding sites. They also remain highly vulnerable to predation when they move out of protected areas.

Shore plover are very unlikely to be seen on Tiritiri Matangi, though some were released on Motutapu in 2012. An early translocation to Motuora, just north of Tiritiri, failed largely due to predation by morepork. 

Find out more about the shore plover at New Zealand Birds Online.

Photography: Martin Sanders ©

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