New Zealand dotterel

New Zealand dotterel on a beach. Image credit: Marie Ward
Credit: Marie Ward

The New Zealand dotterel is an endangered shorebird found only in this country.

They were once widespread and common, but there are now only about 1700 birds left. 

This serious decline in numbers is due to a combination of habitat loss, predation by introduced mammals and disturbance during breeding.

Around Auckland, watch out for New Zealand dotterels nesting at beaches from:

  • east coast - Te Arai to Okura and Kawakawa Bay to Miranda
  • west coast - Kaipara Habour, Muriwai to Whatipu and the Manukau Harbour. 

Their breeding season runs from August to March each year. Breeding pairs return to the same nesting territories, which they defend aggressively from other dotterel pairs.

New Zealand dotterel nests are difficult to see, and are sometimes crushed by people, dogs, vehicles, horses or stock. 

Cats, stoats and hedgehogs are the most important predator of eggs and chicks, but dogs are known to kill chicks and scare away parents from nests. 

Cats and stoats also kill adult birds, especially during the breeding season.

You can help to protect New Zealand dotterels when you are at the beach by:

  • keeping below the high tide mark
  • keeping dogs on leashes and out of prohibited areas
  • keeping away from taped-off areas
  • moving away if you see a dotterel that looks like it’s pretending to have a broken wing.

For more information, you can also read our New Zealand dotterel brochure (PDF 4MB).

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