Juvenile, female, and male shore plovers at Waikawa
Image: Dave Houston | DOC


The survival of the endangered shore plover relies on island biosecurity, captive breeding, and translocations to predator-free islands.


New Zealand status: Endemic
Conservation status: Threatened–Nationally Critical
Found in: Beaches and wave platforms of rat-free islands
Threats: Predation, habitat loss, disturbance
Species information: Shore plover on NZ Birds Online

Shore plover conservation

The former range of shore plover is poorly known. They were first sighted in Dusky and Queen Charlotte Sounds on Cook’s second voyage, and at mudflats and sandspits around the North Island in the early 1800s. 

By the 1870s. cats and Norways rats caused the shore plover to vanish from mainland coasts.

For more than 100 years, Rangatira in the Chatham Islands had the only known population of around 120 birds. The current (2017) wild population is around 240 birds, more than half of which are in the Chatham Islands.

Today, Auckland’s Motutapu Island is the easiest place to see shore plover.

They are also found on Rangatira and Mangere Islands in the Chatham Islands, and Waikawa Island in Hawke’s Bay – all of which have restricted access.


Introduced predators are the main reason for shore plover vanishing from New Zealand’s coastlines. Offshore islands are a refuge from cats and rats, however all sites are at risk of rat invasions.

Rats are a particular risk as even a single rat can have a major impact.

Attempts to establish populations at Portland and Mana Islands have been hampered by rat incursions resulting in the loss of more than 80% of the resident birds. It was suspected that a single rat was the cause in both cases.

Recovery plan

DOC published the Shore Plover Recovery Plan in 2001.

The goal is to maintain and/or establish wild shore plover at a total of five or more locations with a combined population of 250 or more mature individuals.

Achieving this requires island biosecurity, captive breeding, and translocations to predator-free islands.

Captive management

Since the 1990s, the National Wildlife Centre at Pukaha Mt Bruce and the Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust in Christchurch has carried out captive breeding of shore plover.

These captive-reared juveniles have been released on predator-free islands including Motuora, Waikawa, Rarotoka, Mana and Motutapu in an effort to create five self-sustaining populations.

You can help

Report sightings in Auckland and Hawke's Bay

Colour-banded shore plover were released on Motutapu Island to establish a new population. These birds are often seen in the wider Auckland area. Shore plover also occasionally disperse from Waikawa Island and are seen around Hawke’s Bay.

If you see a colour-banded shore plover around Auckland or the Hawke's Bay, let us know. A photograph will help us identify the individuals.

Maungauika / North Head Office
Phone:   +64 9 445 9142
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   aucklandnorthhead@doc.govt.nz
Address:   North Head Historic Reserve
18 Takarunga Road
North Shore 0624
Postal Address:   PO Box 32026
North Shore 0744
Wairoa Base
Phone:      +64 6 838 8252
Email:   hjonas@doc.govt.nz
Emergency hotline

Call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) immediately if you see anyone catching, harming or killing native wildlife.

Help protect our native birds

When visiting parks, beaches, rivers, and lakes
  • Check for pests when visiting pest-free islands.
  • Leave nesting birds alone.
  • Use available access ways to get to the beach. 
  • Avoid leaving old fishing lines on beaches or in the sea.
  • Follow the water care code and local navigation bylaws.
  • Don't drive on riverbeds, or keep to formed tracks if you have to.
When out with your dog
  • Only take dogs to areas that allow them, and keep them under control.
  • If you come across wildlife put your dog on a lead and lead it away. 
  • Warn other dog owners at the location.
  • Notify DOC if you see wildlife being harassed by people or dogs.
Other ways to help
  • Get your dog trained in avian awareness.
  • Volunteer to control predators and restore bird habitats.
  • Set predator traps on your property.
  • Put a bell on your cat's collar and feed it well.

Coastal wildlife and your dog flyer (PDF, 1,170K) 

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