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

***WHALE WATCH KAIKOURA UPDATE***

Over the last week we have had around 3 to 4 sperm whales feeding close inshore which has made for some fantastic sightings. There has also been a humpback whale visiting Kaikōura over the last couple of weeks which has been making itself known on our tours also much to our crew and customers delight. Dolphins, NZ fur seals and marine birds have also regular viewings on our tours.

For guests who are planning on joining us over the next week please note NZTA have issued a notice to all travellers that State Highway 1 Coastal Route south from Kaikōura to Christchurch is closed to all traffic from 8pm on Sunday 26 March to 7am on Tuesday 4 April. This is to allow remedial work to take place and to make the coastal route more resilient during times of unfavourable weather. Please use Inland Route 70 which is open 24/7 during this time, please also allow extra time in your travel plans when using this alternative route.

Progress is being made on the repair of the Kaikōura Marina and we continue to switch between using a berth and our modified trailer unit for launching our vessel Tohorā, when and where possible we are also making use of the public jetty that we have modified, (this is a first for us but when presented with challenges we have embraced them post-earthquake and used our ingenuity) this is due to tidal restrictions and repair work as a result of the coastline lifting by +1.0m. It is anticipated that the Kaikōura Marina will be fully operational by the middle of this year.

Currently our available tour times are based around the tide times on the day and may differ from the tour times originally advertised, please bear with us as we continue to work toward being fully operational again. For an update on the tour times available please contact our Customer Service team directly either by email on res@whalewatch.co.nz or phone +64 3 319 6767 or free phone 0800 655 121 (within NZ) and they will be able to help you with your inquiry.  Please note we are operating at a reduced capacity in the interim with up to 3 tours available per day, please contact our team prior to arriving in Kaikōura to secure a space on one of our tours and to save disappointment.

Kaikōura 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.

Transport Update:

All subject to weather conditions, slips, repair work and seismic activity. Updates available from the NZTA WEBSITE.

Intercity & Hasslefree Tours have daily services from Christchurch to Kaikōura with a return service from Christchurch, as well as Kiwi Experience now having the option of a day tour out of Christchurch for their travellers.

Progress on the work being done on roads (along with harbour repairs) can be found on this dedicated KAIKOURA EARTHQUAKE RESPONSE page provided by the team at NZTA, this page is updated weekly on Friday. Work is also starting to take place on the railway network, please be aware and take care when using rail crossings.

Please consider taking the time to visit Kaikōura, your support is most welcome.

The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura.