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The Birds of Kaikoura

Kaikoura has one of the greatest numbers of different types of seabirds within a small area than anywhere along the New Zealand coastline. The list of seabirds below have been sighted off the Kaikoura Coast, mainly in an area from Kaikoura Peninsula south to a distance of 10 miles off the Conway River mouth.

One of the reasons for such a large number of different types of seabirds in Kaikoura is the presence of a deepwater trench (the Kaikoura Canyon), close inshore. Upwellings of cold nutrient rich water over the shallower coastal waters produce and sustain a vibrant food chain supporting a large variety of fish species, marine mammals and seabirds. Click on the links below for more information on each bird species. 

Five varieties of the Great Albatross can be seen off Kaikoura; wandering albatross, antipodean albatross, gibson's albatross, northern royal albatross and southern royal albatross.

 © Albatross Encounter

Up to nine varieties of the smaller Lesser Albatross (sometimes referred to as mollymawks) can be seen in the waters off Kaikoura.


Seven varieties of Shearwaters can been viewed including; flesh-footed, buller’s, sooty, short-tailed, fluttering and hutton's.

A raft of Hutton's shearwaters off the Kaikoura Coast. © Albatross Encounter

Fourteen Petrel varieties; some of these include westland, common diving, white-chinned, cape pigeon, southern giant, northern giant and wilson's storm petrel.

 © Albatross Encounter

Several varieties of Other Seabirds can be found in the Kaikoura area such as shags, prions, pengiuns, gulls and terns.

 © Dennis Buurman Photography