Whenua Hou diving petrel/kuaka
IntroductionThe Whenua Hou diving petrel/kuaka is New Zealand’s 'newest' bird species, being only described as recently as 2018. The species only breeds on Whenua Hou (Codfish Island) and is Threatened-Nationally Critical.
Scientific name: Pelecanoides whenuahouensis
New Zealand status: Endemic
Conservation status: Threatened – Nationally Critical
Primary threats: Storms and storm surges, competition, and marine light pollution
Length: up to 20 cm
Weight: 125 g
Population: 210 adults
Food: krill, juvenile fish, and juvenile squid
The Whenua Hou diving petrel only breeds in dunes of Waikoropupū (Sealers Bay) on predator-free Whenua Hou (Codfish Island). The species forages west and south of Rakiura (Stewart Island) over the Stewart Snares Shelf during the breeding period (September–January) and along the polar and subantarctic front south of Australia during the non-breeding season (January–September).
- the vulnerability of the extremely small and limited population
- increase of storms and storm surges under the onset of climate change
- competition with more aggressive seabird species for nest sites
- collisions with vessels caused by disorientation due to light pollution.
What we are doing
We have been monitoring the Whenua Hou diving petrel population since 2002 to understand population dynamics, trends, threats, and identify potential solutions.
We recently used the gathered information to identify the best potential conservation strategy for Whenua Hou diving petrel with Ngāi Tahu, Fisheries New Zealand, Environment Southland, and industry through a structured decision-making process. This strategy includes mitigating light pollution at sea, restoring the dune system, and future translocations.
How you can help
You can help by:
- ensuring your vessel is free of rats, especially when you are close to a predator-free island like Whenua Hou
- dimming your lights when you are out at sea (PDF, 535K).
Call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) immediately if you see anyone catching, harming or killing native wildlife.
On your property
- Trap predators on your property.
- Be a responsible cat owner.
In your community
- Find and volunteer with your local community group
- Trap predators in your community
- Get kids or schools involved
See Predator Free 2050 Trust - get involved for information.
Visiting parks, beaches, rivers, and lakes
- Leave nesting birds alone.
- Use available access ways to get to the beach.
- Avoid leaving old fishing lines in the water.
- Follow the water care code and local navigation bylaws.
- Do not drive on riverbeds, or keep to formed tracks if you have to.
- Check for pests if visiting pest-free islands.
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.
- Get your dog trained in avian awareness.
- Learn about the Lead the Way programme which encourages dog owners to become wildlife wise and know how to act to protect coastal wildlife.