Photos of New Zealand

Photos of New Zealand wildlife

You might know that New Zealanders refer to themselves as Kiwis. And, of course, they're famous for their Kiwifruit. But Kiwi is really the name of a large flightless bird, native only to New Zealand. Since much of what is in New Zealand is not actually native to New Zealand, that is - much of what is in New Zealand (both plant and animal) was brought in from elsewhere, the Kiwis have become endangered by the mammals that have been introduced there. These include ferrets, possums, and even people's pet dogs and cats.

But Kiwis are pretty interesting little creatures. The female lays the largest egg relative to body size of any bird. In fact, during the gestation period, the egg takes up such a large fraction of the body cavity of the female, she has difficulty eating. During the last days of gestation, she does not eat at all and nearly starves as a consequence. After she lays the egg, the male incubates it. The incubation period for the Kiwi egg is very long and during the last days, the male does not leave the egg. As a result, the male doesn't eat for many days and nearly starves before the egg is hatched. After all of this sacrifice by the parents, it's ironic that once the chick is born, it is practically self-sufficient and is given little care by the parents. Just one more unusual fact about the Kiwi egg itself - it has one of the largest ratios of yoke to white of any bird egg. If you'd like to know more, see About Kiwis.
Because the Kiwi is endangered, the Kiwis (er...the New Zealanders) go to great length to protect the few that are left and are trying very hard to save the species - including road signs. You can already tell from this sign that they're funny looking little birds.
These guys are rare enough that whenever there's a chance to photograph one, I'll take it. Unfortunately, they're not only rare but also nocturnal so they're both hard to find and difficult to photograph.
Here's a slightly better shot of a Kiwi. Well, ok, still not a good shot.
Seeing seals in the zoo isn't very exciting. Seeing them in their natural habitat is far better. These were along the coast near Westport on the south island.
It's breeding season for the seals. The females and pups just lulled on the rocks along the ocean shore.


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