Marine Bird Spotlight – Hutton’s Shearwaters (also known as the Titi)

The Hutton’s Shearwater is an endangered seabird endemic to Kaikōura. Kaikōura is the only place in the world that the Hutton Shearwaters breeds, high in the Kaikōura Ranges at elevations between 1200 to 1800 metres.

 

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Titi being bought down from the mountains to the Peninsula colony

This species of shearwater are a medium-sized brown-and-white shearwater, around 36-38cm in length and can have a wingspan of about 75cm and are thought to live for about 30 years.

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Hutton's shearwater chick

During spring and summer, large flocks can often be spotted just offshore from the Kaikōura coastline flying low over the sea or rafted up in very large groups on the water. They consume a variety of crustaceans and small fish.

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Hutton's Shearwaters in flight

Each day adult birds travel approximately 20 kilometres to the sea, to eat fish and krill which are later fed to their young. On their downhill flight they travel at up to 154 km/h, reaching the ocean in as little as seven minutes. The return trip takes around 38 minutes, with 1200 metres or more in altitude to be gained with a bellyful of fish.

Habitat loss and predation by introduced mammals is the main threat to remaining Hutton’s shearwater populations. Deer and chamois are known to trample nesting burrows, stoats and cats will eat young birds and eggs, and pigs would be a major threat if they reached the breeding colonies.

The two remaining breeding colonies are confined to a small area, making the birds extremely vulnerable to events such as landslides or predation which could lead to extinction.

To help secure the long-term survival of Hutton’s shearwater/tītī, a third colony (Te Rae o Atiu) was established on the Kaikōura Peninsula in 2005, to ensure long-term survival. This was a joint project by Te Runanga o Kaikōura, Whale Watch and the Department of Conservation, with support from Forest & Bird and the local community. While the Peninsula is significantly lower in altitude than existing colonies, the fact that seabirds are known to have bred here previously suggests this is a suitable site.

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Kaikōura Peninsula site

To learn more about the great work being down at the Kaikōura Peninsula site by the Hutton’s Shearwater Trust along with more information about these beautiful birds please check out the following website www.huttonsshearwater.org.nz

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Welcome home ceremony for the Hutton's Shearwater

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School children learning about the endangered shearwater

Kaikōura’s Summer weather has been a treat this past week, making for some epic sea conditions and amazing clear sightings of marine life out on the water.

It seems like Tiaki and Tutu, two of our favourite whales to see out in the Canyon, have been getting reacquainted since they’ve reunited, as this marks the second week in a row that we’ve seen catching a breather up on the surface and diving down to feed together. Looks like they missed each other as much as we missed them whilst they were away!

Other semi-residential Sperm Whales we saw this week included Mati Mati and Aoraki as well as many transient Sperm Whales who are constantly drawn to Kaikōura due to the abundance of food on offer. As with the majority of our tours, we sighted NZ Fur Seals, Hectors Dolphins, Dusky Dolphins and a variety of seabirds including the Great Wandering Albatross.

Who else is planning to kick start their Summer with a whale watching tour? Bring your family and friends along too and make it an adventure! Buy a whale watching gift voucher or, better yet, check out our Marine Combo deal! Get above, on and below the water with a scenic flight, whale watching boat trip and swim with the dolphins! The ultimate gift this Christmas and one of the best ways to make some lasting Summer memories.

Don’t forget, State Highway 1 North is re-opening this Friday afternoon. And yes, the world famous Nins Bin caravan will be ready to welcome you back! So if you’re making your way along the Coast, stop to enjoy the warm weather, soak up the scenes and take in this incredible new landscape that Kaikōura is quickly becoming known for. They’ll be serving freshly caught crayfish and all that other good stuff including mussels, whitebait and the classic Kiwi fish n’ chips right on the beach – does it get any better?!

ROAD ACCESS UPDATE

There is a possibility of short delays with it being 30km/hour through parts of the route. The full rebuild of the highway will continue in 2018. Check the NZTA website for road updates before traveling. INLAND ROUTE 70 IS OPEN 24/7.

KAIKOURA BUSINESS UPDATE

Kaikōura is open for business. For latest updates on accommodation, restaurant and retail information please contact the team at the Kaikōura I-Site who will be able to help you find what suits your needs during your stay in Kaikōura. 

ORGANISED TRANSPORT OPTIONS FROM CHRISTCHURCH

Hasslefree ToursCanterbury Leisure Tours & Kaikoura Express have daily services from Christchurch to Kaikōura with a return service from Christchurch. Kiwi Experience now have the option of a day tour out of Christchurch for their travellers. Intercity Bus also provides a bus service between Christchurch and Kaikoura return.

Progress on the work being done on the roads (along with harbour repairs) can be found on the dedicated Kaikoura Earthquake Response page provided by the team at NZTA. This page is updated weekly on Fridays. Work is also underway on the railway network, please be aware and take care when using rail crossings.

The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura.