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..

White-faced Storm Petrel

Scientific name:

 Pelagodroma marina maoriana

Maori Name:




Conservation status:

At risk - relict 

Mainland status:

No breeding colonies on mainland


20 cm, 45 g 




October - March  


Krill, small crustaceans and small fish

Total population:

c. 900,000 breeding pairs 

Like other storm petrels, the New Zealand white-faced storm petrel is often known among fishermen as the 'Jesus Christ bird' because it appears to walk on water as it hunts for prey - mainly planktonic crustaceans and small fish taken from the surface of the water.

It is a small, lightly built seabird, quite strikingly marked: grey above with darker flight and tail feathers, pale grey rump, white belly and breast, a white face with a dark grey crown and a dark stripe through and just below the eye. The eye is large and dark, the bill, legs and toes are black, but the webs between the toes are yellowish.

Despite their high numbers, white-faced storm petrels are classed as 'at risk' because they are extremely vulnerable to introduced mammalian predators. They breed in dense colonies on predator-free islands (the largest being c. 840,000 in Rangatira/South East Island in the Chathams). A single egg is laid in a burrow or under dense vegetation between October and mid-December. The chick hatches after about 50 days and is fed nightly until it is around 57 days old, when it fledges.

White-faced storm petrels nest on islands in the outer Hauraki Gulf, notably the Mokohinau Islands. They can be seen from the coastal path on Tiritiri Matangi, as they forage in nearby waters, but sharp eyes and strong binoculars or a telescope are needed; because of their small size and cryptic colouring against the surface of the sea, they are not easy to spot.

Learn more abou the New Zealand white-faced storm petrel 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.