Bar-tailed godwit
Image: Andrew Walmsley | ©


Bar-tailed godwits are one of 35 species that come to New Zealand each year from the Arctic.

Population: 330,000
New Zealand status: Native
Conservation status: At Risk–Declining
Found in: Estuaries and sandy coastal areas throughout New Zealand
Threats: Human impact, habitat loss
Species information: Bar-tailed godwit on NZ Birds Online 

Did you know?

Each September godwits fly direct from Alaska to New Zealand without a break.

Bar-tailed godwit conservation

Bar-tailed godwits are one of 35 species which come to New Zealand every summer from their breeding ground in the Arctic. They all move huge distances as the seasons change to either exploit rich feeding grounds or to avoid frozen lands.

In New Zealand some 80,000 godwits arrive and move into harbours and estuaries. Main sites include Manukau Harbour, Firth of Thames, Farewell Spit, Avon Heathcote River estuaries, Awarua Bay, Houhora Harbour, Rangaunu Bay, Avon-Heathcote Estuary and Parengarenga Harbour. 

Declines in bar-tailed godwits and other shorebird species is due to habitat changes in the Yellow Sea. This is where they stopover on their migrations to and from the Arctic breeding grounds to refuel and gather food.

Our work includes protecting the Yellow Sea, and working with our local and regional councils to ensure good policies are in place to protect New Zealand estuaries. 

To support our efforts DOC and the State Forestry Administration (SFA) of China have agreed to work together to protect, manage, and restore wetlands visited by bar-tailed godwits and other migratory shorebirds during their migratory flights.

DOC and China’s conservation agency agree to protect migratory birds – media release 18 March 2016.

You can help

  • Support Pukorokoro Miranda Natualists Trust in their shorebird work. 
  • Volunteer at your local Estuary Care Group.
  • Stay off high tide roost sites.
  • Don't allow your dog to chase godwits.
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