Regionally rare yellow-crowned kakariki on the increase

  • Published Date 10 Mar 2015

A flurry of yellow-crowned kakariki (parakeet) sightings across the region is 'extremely pleasing', says Greater Wellington Regional Council Environmental Scientist Nikki McArthur.  The population growth is being attributed to the results of extensive predator control along with unusually heavy flowering and fruiting of native trees over the past year.

The yellow-crowned kakariki (Cyanoramphus auriceps) is native to New Zealand and is found in most large native forests on the mainland - but is listed as 'regionally rare' in the greater Wellington region.  The reverse is true for the red-crowned kakariki, they are the more common of the two species in the Wellington region, but are largely restricted to pest-free off-shore islands in other parts of the country.

"We were delighted to receive reports of yellow-crowned kakariki spotted by a local bird enthusiast in the Porirua Scenic Reserve recently. To my knowledge this is the first time this species has been recorded in the reserve," says McArthur.   "We know that their red-crowned relatives have been present for a number of years.

"It is the latest in an impressive list of natural re-colonisations that have occurred in the Porirua Scenic Reserve over the last decade.  The 200ha reserve is the largest native forest remnant in the Porirua Basin. It supports a wide range of insects, nectar and seed producing trees which provide food for many bird species.  Bellbird and whiteheads are now also seen in good numbers."

Possum control began in the reserve in 1996, from 2001 rats and stoats were also targetted. GWRC is working in partnership with Porirua City Council, as part of GWRC's Key Native Ecosystem programme, to protect the biodiversity values of the reserve and surrounding forest on private land.

GWRC officers believe the yellow-crowned kakariki have made landfall in Porirua from predator-free Mana Island, a stronghold for the species.  The sighting is the latest in a series of observations of this elusive bird in new and unexpected locations.  Yellow crowned kakariki have also been spotted in the East Harbour Regional Park for the first time in 30 years and a pair reported in the foothills of the Tararua Ranges, near Masterton.

"We think these kakariki species have had a bumper breeding season at key sites such as Kapiti, Mana and Matiu/Somes Islands and possibly some mainland sites such as Zealandia, Porirua Scenic Reserve and East Harbour Regional Park too. I think this might be resulting in an unusually large number of juvenile kakariki exploring new sites at the moment."

Kakariki are one of New Zealand's more mobile birds capable of dispersing many kilometres.  They can be seen in native forests and reserves but will also visit back gardens and will feed on both natives and exotic plant species, even grazing for seeds on unmown lawns.

"It's really exciting to see the results of our biosecurity and biodiversity work paying off with populations of these species looking stronger.  These new colonisations are really interesting and we'd like to know more about how kakariki distribution is changing in the region."

GWRC is keen to hear of both yellow and red-crowned kakariki sightings.  Details of the location, date and number of birds sighted should be forwarded to  These observations will contribute to an increasingly detailed picture of kakariki distribution in the Wellington region and inform decisions about conservation activities in the future.


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Updated April 29, 2022 at 11:20 AM

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