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Hutton's Shearwater

Hutton's shearwater (Puffinus huttoni)

Hutton's Shearwater
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Hutton’s shearwaters breed only on the Seaward Kaikoura Mountains at an altitude of 1200-1800metres - a most unusual place for a seabird to nest. Given the unusual and inaccessible breeding grounds, its breeding sites were not found until 1965 by mountaineer Geoff Harrow. When the Hutton’s shearwater breeding colonies were rediscovered by Geoff Harrow in 1964, there were eight colonies, now only two remain. 

Thought to have formerly bred throughout much of the Seaward and Inland Kaikoura Range and even possibly further afield along the upper east coast of the South Island. The two remaining colonies are located in the Seaward Kaikoura Range. The major colony (surveys carried out on this colony in 1992 (Sherley) estimated a population of about 94,000 breeding pairs) is located at the head of the Kowhai River and a second smaller colony is located further north in the Seaward Kaikoura Range at the Puhi Peaks.

In 2005 the Board of Alpine Discovery Ltd endorsed the setting up of a charitable trust for the protection of the endangered Hutton's shearwater at Puhi Peaks and also set in motion the process to have the entire upper part of the Puhi Peaks colony area protected in perpetuity under a QE11 National Trust Protection Covenant. The area is now known as the Puhi Peaks Nature Reserve.

In 2005 a new colony was established on the Kaikoura PeninsulaIn when shearwater chicks were translocated to new homes (burrows) at the Kaikoura Peninsula colony. These chicks were fed sardine smoothies daily until they were ready to fly (fledge) to the ocean. For more information on this exciting project, go to the Hutton's Trust website