Prior to human settlement, there were no mammals in New Zealand except for several species of bat. Birds filled the forests and skies, and a botanist on Captain Cook’s first expedition to New Zealand in 1770 claimed to have been awakened by the dawn chorus when the Endeavour was anchored more than a quarter of a mile away.
Today is a very different story. Since that time, Europeans have brought pigs, rats, stoats, rabbits, wallabies and opossums, to name but a few. All of which have thrived at the expense of the native bird life. If you come on Real Rotorua’s Nocturnal Adventure you are likely to discover completely different wildlife to what Captain Cook would have experienced all those years ago. Here are the creatures you are most likely to see and hear:
One of the most common sounds in a forest at night is the Morpork, a native owl, also known by its Maori name of Ruru. Its given name, Morpork, reflects the sound you will hear echoing through the trees. While sometimes hard to see, you will often feel its presence the moment you step into a forest at night time.
Due to their declining numbers, thanks to the aforementioned stoats and rats, you are unlikely to see a Kiwi in the wild anymore. However, if you are very lucky you might hear the repetitive shrieking-whistle of a Kiwi marking its territory. And if you would like to see a Kiwi in captivity, head to the fantastic Kiwi enclosure at Rainbow Springs.
Introduced in 1837 by fur traders, there are now estimated to be more than 50 million possums in New Zealand and they are widely considered to be a pest due to the damage they cause to native flora and fauna. However, unlike the North American variety, this Australian import is actually rather cute and can often be seen by torchlight, climbing trees and foraging for food.
Wallabies, which are similar to Kangaroos, but smaller, were introduced to New Zealand in the early 1900s. Whilst considered to be nocturnal, they can sometimes be found in the day, most commonly emerging from the forest to feast on adjacent paddocks.
Sign up for our Nocturnal Adventure if you’d like to experience New Zealand’s native bush by night and hopefully see all this wildlife in action.