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..

White-fronted Tern

Scientific name:

 Sterna striata striata



Conservation status:

 Native. At risk - declining

Mainland status:

 c15,000 - 20,000 pairs (1997)


 42cm, 160g


 Oldest recorded - 26 years


 October - January


 Small fish

White fronted tern and fledgling - photographer Dr Kerry RodgersThe White Fronted Tern is the most common tern in New Zealand. It has a long black bill and short black legs. The head is capped in black to below the eye, leaving a white area above the bill. The upper parts and upper wings are a pearly grey/white and the neck, underparts and underwings are white. The call is a high pitched 'siet'.

Breeding takes place between October and January in large colonies on rocky cliffs and offshore islands. The nest is a shallow, unlined hollow, in which one egg is normally laid, though clutches can number as many as three eggs. Both adults incubate for around 24 days and brood the chick (normally only one is raised) for a few days after hatching. The chick fledges at around 29-35 days and continues to be fed by its parents for about three months after fledging.

White fronted tern - photographer: Simon FordhamWhite fronted terns feed in large flocks on small fish by plunge diving. Shoals of smelt and pilchards which have been driven to the surface by larger fish are easily caught by the terns.

On Tiritiri Matangi they are most often seen on and around the wharf, though they have bred regularly on the eastern side of the Island. Like many terns, they change their breeding sites from time to time.

Learn more about white-fronted terns at New Zealand Birds On-line.

Photography by:  Dr Kerry Rodgers © (white fronted tern with fledgling - right) and by Simon Fordham © (left)

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