Royal spoonbills in Waihi wetlands during a downpour
Image: Ian Ashmore | DOC

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


Those spotting native royal spoonbills at Waihi wetlands in the South of Lake Taupō should have their puns, and cameras, at the ready.

Date:  25 August 2022

Naturally uncommon, the self-introduced native royal spoonbill or kōtuku ngutupapa are a difficult bird to mistake.

Department of Conservation Operations Manager Dave Lumley says the large white wading birds with a cutlery-inspired bill can frequently be seen from State Highway 41 near Waihi Road.

“We’re quite often seeing them in the mornings – later in the day they seem to move further into the wetland.”

Spoonbills sweep their beaks side-to-side, seeking prey such as fish, insects, and frogs. The famous bill isn’t a simple ladle though, it has built-in vibration detectors to find prey in darkness or muddy waters.

“They’re obviously stirring up some food in there, as they’ve stuck around for so long.

“It’s a good reminder to slow down on this stretch of road, as we have had a number of wetland birds hit by cars, including endangered matuku hurepo/Australasian bittern.”

“Oh, and drive safely around birdwatchers, too!”


For media enquiries contact:


Back to top