Search For The South Island Kokako

Planning your next adventure in the South or Stewart Islands?

How about searching for the elusive and secretive South Island kōkako?!

The South Island Kōkako Charitable Trust is preparing a map to show you when and where the best encounters have been reported and we’ll let you know when it’s ready here.

In the meantime, some of the best reports recently have been from the Heaphy Track.  From Gouland Downs Hut to Aorere Shelter there has been a cluster of reported encounters, the most recent in late August.  A large bird with orange at its throat was seen flying onto a branch, hopping along a couple of branches and then flying away.  This 10 second encounter was in the bush just metres from the Gouland Downs Hut while looking for takahē, which were released into the area in March.  Reports are also coming in of great spotted kiwi being seen on the track, north of Perry Saddle, during daylight hours – a fantastic opportunity for trampers and bikers there.  And a reminder to bikers not to speed – there could be an unexpected flightless bird in your path!

Having your camera handy could net you a photo of one of these precious native birds, or potentially, and perhaps most likely from a gopro type camera as reported glimpses are so brief, one of the South Island kōkako and even the $10,000 reward for confirmation that it still exists!

Other areas the Trust is particularly interested in are the Grey Valley, South Westland, Fiordland and Stewart Island. Evidence from hundreds of reported encounters over the past 20 years or so indicates that a focus in spring and autumn will be most successful, as that is when most reports have been concentrated – so now’s good!

Trust Manager, Inger Perkins, added “The Heaphy Track is open to bikes until the end of November, so, whether there or exploring other native forest in the South and Stewart Islands, and whether on your bike or on foot, keep your ears and eyes peeled and your camera at the ready.  Spice up your next backcountry trip, have fun and stay safe out there”.

You might like to see a report about the search and the August encounter near Gouland Downs hut on Maori TV here:  The search is the second story, at about 16 minutes 13 seconds in. 

And you can find out more on the Trust’s website and facebook page

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