White fronted tara chicks are almost an identical colour to the rocks they are nesting on in this photo
Image: DOC

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


We are reminding the public to be careful on and around the region’s beaches at this time of year, especially around nesting sites.

Date:  22 December 2017

Tarāpuka nest with chick and egg.
Step lightly near nesting sites as chicks and nests are often hard to see, such as this endemic and endangered tarāpuka

DOC Hawke's Bay Operations Manager Connie Norgate says many of New Zealand's rare and endangered birds are currently raising their young in these areas.

"Right now, there are thousands of birds nesting on our beaches," she says.

"From the critically endangered black-billed gull or tarāpuka and New Zealand dotterel or tūturiwhatu, to the more common, but equally precious, white fronted tern or tara.

"These birds use camouflage as a defence mechanism, so the chicks and nests can be extremely difficult to spot."

Tara nui nest.
Nests, such as this tara nui one, are often well hidden in the beach to protect the eggs from predators, so it pays to look down when walking anywhere near nesting sites

For this reason, DOC is asking people to be aware of their surroundings when visiting the beach, especially if they have a dog and even in leash free areas.

"Having more people outdoors increases the chance of disturbances at nesting sites," says Ms Norgate.

"Please avoid nesting sites where possible because animals are not aware of boundaries. If you're out with your dog and see a nest, please leash them until you're safely past that area.

"Also keep your eyes peeled when using off-road vehicles."

Other ways people can help protect these birds is by keeping:

  • below the high tide mark
  • noise to a minimum and not getting too close
  • to marked tracks and paths wherever possible
  • dogs on a leash
  • vehicles off beaches and sandspits.

Ms Norgate says these are small and effective measures to give these birds a fighting chance this breeding season.


For media queries contact:

Email: media@doc.govt.nz

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