The flightless takahē is a unique bird, a conservation icon and a survivor that is endemic to New Zealand.

Its body is covered in dark feathers with a distinctive blue-green sheen. The bird has a robust build, strong legs, and a thick, red bill. Thought to be extinct for nearly half a century, takahē were rediscovered in 1948 by an Invercargill-based doctor, Geoffrey Orbell. He came across a small number of birds in the Murchison Mountains deep in Fiordland, still the only place on Earth where these peculiar birds are found. The Murchison Mountains are closed off to the public to protect the takahē. 

Takahē have a relatively slow reproductive rate, which makes population recovery challenging. They typically produce only one or two eggs per breeding season, and the chicks take several months to fledge and become independent. This slow reproductive cycle, coupled with the need for secure habitats and predator control, necessitates ongoing conservation efforts to support population growth. Thanks to dedicated conservation initiatives, the takahē population has slowly increased over the years. As of 2021, there were approximately 450 takahē individuals. You can see takahē at the Te Anau Bird Sanctuary.


Read more on the takahē here.

Learn more about other birds in Southland: