First Chicks of the 2023-24 season

Today (15th Dec 2023) we had our first chicks found in their burrows at Te Rae o Atiu.
This one in burrow 59 was our first, and seems to be about 4 days old.

First chick of 2023-24 season – B59

Two eggs were found broken today, and 4 others are unlikely to hatch due to various odd parental behaviours, but that leaves 29 more that could possibly hatch (of the 37 laid this season).

The season has started reasonably well, and we welcome our little bits of Christmas cheer to their new home.



Te Rae o Atiu 2022-23 season report

27 July 2023
A comment today from someone that this site has not seen much activity has prompted this brief update.   The comment is true enough, because we no longer have a paid administrator, and all activity is now purely voluntary, and most of us are busy in multiple roles.   And there is always more to do than people to do it.

The 2022-23 season was a reasonably successful one for our colony.

We had 86 birds return, up 1 on the previous year, but 8 of our previously regular returnees failed to return.   That is probably an indication of an extremely harsh season in early 2022, which saw us having to supplemental feed our chicks for a couple of weeks to keep them alive.   Most birds seemed to be underweight prior to leaving for Australia.   Looks like about 10%  of breeding adults didn’t make it there and back, it might be a very bad year for chicks.

Our season at Te Rae was reasonably successful.  No supplemental feeding required.   We had 35 eggs laid, 19 hatch, and 18 fledge – with the unexpected late death of what looked like a chick ready to fledge.   At 55% that isn’t great, but it is slightly better than average (53%).

It wasn’t a great hatching rate, but it was a very wet spring, with many burrows being flooded.   That lead to us having several working bees where we installed drainage into about 20 burrows, and did a lot of remodeling of terrain to divert water away from burrows.

Lots of issues that always happen in a project of this scale, and we are making progress, and we are learning a great deal.    The old recorder boxes are being replaced by new ones of a new design, which makes their upkeep easier and the data more reliable.   I rewrote the download software to be fully automatic and to speak when something needs attention, which made the process of downloading data from the recorders about 5 times faster – it is hard to see laptop screens and mouse pointers in sunlight, so keeping interactions to a minimum, and speaking as well as displaying information, has made a big difference.

Toni has been doing a lot of work keeping the growth under some sort of control, and in the process has found 4 carcasses of chicks that didn’t make it from previous years.   That too seems to be something natural.   In my time in the Kowhai colony observing birds at night with thermal imaging gear, I have seen chicks fail to take off and crash into hohera trees on their first attempt.   What really amazes me is that over half of the eggs that are laid manage to fledge (about 53%) and over half the chicks that fledge come back to our colony (about 55%).    We cannot be sure if some of them go to other colonies, or if the ones we don’t see have died, but given that they are essentially on their own from when the fledge, and they have to find food on instinct, and navigate to Australia and back multiple times (3+) before we see them again, it is quite something.

Marine heat waves don’t make it easy for our birds, and they are surviving.   They are tough.  They need to be.

Thanks for your interest in reading this far.

If you are interested in volunteering time, please contact Ted (027 442 4281)

Sad News – Our mighty Totara has fallen

It is my sad duty to inform all those interested in Hutton’s Shearwaters that Geoff Harrow (Trust Founder and Patron) passed last night (17 Jan 2023) at age 96.

Knowing Geoff has meant a lot to most of us who knew him.

Geoff & Lindsey

Geoff holding a hutton’s chick in the new colony he was foundational in building.

KAIKOURA, NEW ZEALAND – November 23: Prince of Wales at the Hutton’s Shearwater November 23, 2019 Kaikoura, New Zealand. (Photo by Mark Tantrum/

Geoff found the birds for science (some locals knew where they were, but did not share that information).

Geoff’s passion for the birds has been legend.   He will be sorely missed by many, and he leaves a legacy matched by few.


Welcome home to our Titi

Since about two weeks our dear birds have begun to return to Te Rae o Atiu, the translocation colony on the peninsula. This is a busy and social time for the birds as they are re-establishing pair bonds and settling into their burrows to eventually start laying their eggs in November. At sea you will be able to observe Hutton’s shearwater flock up in big rafts, a typical behaviour at the start of the season. Social time 🙂

It’s time to celebrate the start of another season with these wonderful birds who call Kaikoura and its mountains their only home. But it’s also time to be aware and start looking out for them again. Not only out at sea when approaching rafting birds (go slow!) but also on the roads at night as also adult birds can fall victim to light disorientation and crashlanding in unfavourable weather conditions. as there is a lot of commute between the colonies and the sea at the beginning of the season, the likelihood of this happening is higher now compared to later in the season. It can happen anytime though. As such we urge locals as well as visitors to be driving slow and with care after nightfall and keep a close eye on dark shapes on the road. Due to their grey colour, Hutton’s are not easily detected on roads at night. In addition to that, they won’t fly off!

Please take care of our Titi at this time. Follow us on facebook to hear updates from our peninsula colony throughout the breeding season. Thank you 🙂


Farewell to our Titi / Hutton’s shearwater

As the breeding and now also the fledging season draws to an end, we are celebrating another year of caring for our special bird with our annual Farewell event. Please join us in wishing them well on their journey out at sea until they arrive back at our shores again in August.

Enjoy a visit to the peninsula colony, a good yarn over morning tea and the end of season updates by our trustees.

You can find all the event info on our poster here:

We are back! :)

Hello dear friends of the Hutton’s.

Time appears to fly faster than any shearwater ever could! And we apologise for the period where you might have gotten the feeling that thee is only cobwebs gathering on this site. A few internal challenges have kept us from tending to this site in an appropriate manner. We promise betterment! 😉

Let’s kick it off with announcing this season’s FLYSAFE program being up and running, with a great group of dedicated volunteers from within the Kaikoura community supporting us in our annual search and rescue operations for crashlanding Hutton’s shearwater fledglings.

You ca find more details under our fallout / crashlandings tab on this page.

Since late last week, birds have started to fall, so it is high time to keep your eyes peeled for shearwaters on the roads, the curb, carparks, you driveway or backyard. If you find a bird, gently pick it up, place in a card board box and take to the Hutton’s Hub on Ludstone road next to the DOC office (follow the signage). From here our teams will see to their safe release but will also deal with injured birds. Record rescue data in the log sheets at the hub.This will help us to work towards fallout mitigation in the future.

You can also help by keeping your cats inside at night during March and April and drive extra carefully at night and in the early hours of the morning. Grounded Hutton’s shearwaters are unable to take off o their own once on flat solid ground. So they won’t fly off in front of your car!

We appreciate your support,

thank you 🙂


Successful visit from HRH

HRH Prince Charles visited our Ta Rae O Atiu colony on the Kaikoura peninsula where he met our patron Geoff and family, many of our trustees, Rawiri representing Te Runanga o Kaikoura and the star of the show – our Titi.

HRH meets Ted, Geoff, Phil and Rawiri as Chair, Patron, DOC and Runanga representative.

KAIKOURA, NEW ZEALAND – November 23: Prince of Wales at the Hutton’s Shearwater November 23, 2019 Kaikoura, New Zealand. (Photo by Mark Tantrum/


HRH the Prince of Wales (PoW) then walked into the site and met some of the team.

Meeting Teri.
From left – Rawiri, Geoff, Ted, Phil, PoW, Teri, Nicky, Sheryl (foreground), Lorna (background), and Geoff’s family Lindsey, Belinda, Emma, Brenda, Steve and Paul (Ailsa out of frame taking photos).

KAIKOURA, NEW ZEALAND – November 23: Prince of Wales at the Hutton’s Shearwater November 23, 2019 Kaikoura, New Zealand. (Photo by Mark Tantrum/


Geoff then presented a kete of gifts including Richard’s book to the PoW.

PoW receives Kete from Trust. From left – Ailsa, Ted, Phil, Geoff, Teri, PoW, Lorna, Nicky, Belinda, Steve, Lindsey, Rawiri (partially).

KAIKOURA, NEW ZEALAND – November 23: Prince of Wales at the Hutton’s Shearwater November 23, 2019 Kaikoura, New Zealand. (Photo by Mark Tantrum/


The prince also met a very stroppy bird from burrow 12 that was not at all pleased at being disturbed and took out its displeasure on chair Ted.

From left Nicky, Rawiri, Geoff, Phil, PoW, Titi from burrow 12 and Ted.

KAIKOURA, NEW ZEALAND – November 23: Prince of Wales at the Hutton’s Shearwater November 23, 2019 Kaikoura, New Zealand. (Photo by Mark Tantrum/


In the 20 minutes HRH spent on site he was given a brief introduction to the bird, and its endangered status.   The need for advanced monitoring equipment to allow us to detect any threat to the few remaining colonies was stressed.    He seemed genuinely interested in individuals, humanity and nature.

He then left the site for a walk along the cliff tops past Sam’s bronze of our Titi.

HRH pauses to look at Sam Mahon’s bronze of our Titi



The prince later narrated a video about his concern at where our current economic system is taking us, and how we might choose another path.   His visit to Te Rae o Atiu features towards the end of the video.



What he says is:

“The tragedy of our recent past, it seems to me, is that we have come to view human achievement in terms of our ability to defeat nature. To defy the limitations she imposes on us and to demonstrate our own supremacy, as a species, over the natural economy she requires. Now in all of this we could do well to recall the belief of many indigenous peoples around the world that in making decisions we should think about the consequences for unborn children seven generations in the future.

It would be worth bearing in mind the Maori principle of kaitiakitanga which holds that we are intrinsically connected to the natural environment and that it is beholden on us to treat it with care, guardianship and good management.

If, ladies and gentlemen, we can find a place for this traditional wisdom at the heart of a new decarbonised and circular bio-economy; if we can turn back to nature with reverence and respect and recognise that we are utterly dependent upon her; and if we realise that our economy must be informed by Nature’s own waste free circular economy; then we can still change course.”


FLYSAFE 2019. It’s a wrap!

The results are in 🙂

We had the last bird rescues recorded on 14th April, which brings this season’s number of fallen Hutton’s shearwater fledglings to 85.

Of these 18 died upon impact, from predation  or roadkill, where the latter was the dominant cause of mortality.

In addition, 17 birds were injured but could successfully be rehabilitated.

As in previous years, about 80% of fallen birds could be rescued, which is not least due to the great support from the Kaikoura community looking after our precious birds.

Fallout concentrated along Kaikoura’s coastal roads, and in particular along the Esplanade.

The fallout numbers from this season as well as the distribution of rescue locations compare to results from previous years. We are looking at a ‘moderate’ fallout season. However, we hope to be able to reduce numbers by working with KDC and the community on mitigating fallout, which is predominantly caused by light pollution and according disorientation of birds having to reach the sea at night.

For more detail, follow this link to see our ppt presentation on this year’s fallout season. Make sure you activate ‘show speaker notes’ under the ‘view’ tab to see explanations accompanying the slides.

If you want to read a bit more ‘science’ on the subject, ask us for a copy of “Investigation of fallout events in Hutton’s shearwaters (Puffinus huttoni) associated with artificial lighting.” Notornis, 2017, Vol. 64: 181-191.


We finish this season with a massive thanks to our inspired, passionate and dedicated team of volunteers we have been blessed with this year. You have been fabulous!!!

Hutton’s Farewell Event – Sunday 7th April

Please read the flyer for our Farewell Event to be held this Sunday 7th April. Everybody Welcome!

Hutton’s shearwater FLYSAFE 2019

FLYSAFE 2019 – Help our Titi fledglings to reach the sea.

Our formerly fluffy chicks have now grown most of their shiny new adult feathers and will put them to the test over the coming 1.5 months when leaving their burrows for the first time to fly out to sea.

Not all of them will be successful and as such the time of the year has come again to be extra vigilant and WATCH OUT FOR CRASHLANDED HUTTON’S SHEARWATERS in and around Kaikoura.

To support and facilitate the rescue of birds on the ground, this year’s FlySafe Campaign will run from 1st March to 7th April 2019.

The HUTTON’S HUB at 115 Ludstone Road (next to DOC office) is open 24/7 to receive rescued birds. From here they will be examined and safely released.

For queries or assistance, you can ring our dedicated trustee Nicky McArthur (021 351 355) who is happy to help.

Please find more information on how you can support FlySafe on our info poster here.

Read up on further details and background info under our Crash Landings / Fallout tab here.

Become an active supporter of FlySafe by joining this year’s Volunteer Workforce. If you want to:

  • Raise public awareness of this annual occurrence throughout your community,
  • Help out on night patrols as part of one of our Rescue and Release teams,
  • Get involved in collecting useful scientific data about the Titi that crashland in Kaikoura,
  • Be part of our Hutton’s Hub monitoring team,

you can register your interest here.