westland petrel Photo by Rod Morris - Punakaiki Threatened Species - Wild Futures

Westland Petrel / Taiko

Photo courtesy of Rod Morris

The Westland Petrel/tāiko are the last remnant of a unique ecosystem.  They are one of the few petrel species that remain on the mainland of New Zealand, breeding only on the west coast of the South Island.  Several species of burrowing petrel once bred in similar terrain on the North and South Islands of New Zealand.  However, human food-gathering, habitat modifications and introduced predators have decimated petrel populations, almost completely wiping them out from mainland sites.  The Westland petrel numbers only 2000 breeding pairs making it Vulnerable on the IUCN’s Red List and At Risk on New Zealand’s classification system.

The Westland Petrel needs our help so it doesn’t go the way of other petrel species!

Species: Tāiko / Westland Petrel / Procellaria westlandic
Location: Endemic to the coastal foothills of Punakaiki
Status: At Risk
Threats:  Introduced predators are a major threat, particularly stoats and rats.  Other threats include lighting near flight paths, land modification for farming, cats, dogs, pigs and goats.
Our work: planting, weeding, community education.

Taking action to conserve Tāiko

The Punakaiki Coastal Restoration Project is a collaborative effort involving business, government and community organisations pooling their resources to deliver significant environmental and community benefits. The project partners are the Department of Conservation, Conservation Volunteers New Zealand, Lincoln University and Rio Tinto Ltd.

The site borders the Westland Petrel Special Protected Area, located in the foothills of the Paparoa Ranges. This is the only breeding colony for the Westland Petrel (tāiko), a sub-species of petrel whose presence was first discovered by students from the local Barrytown school in the late 1940’s. Planting at this site is designed to enhance the protection of the Westland Petrel’s breeding habitat

Through the combined efforts of everyone involved, the project is helping to:

  • Create a buffer zone to enhance protection of the petrel colony
  • Develop an education and knowledge base to support tāiko protection
  • Reduce the impact of predators on the colony

Join Conservation Volunteers on an adventure along the beautiful West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island. This project focuses on habitat restoration of coastal land adjacent to Paparoa National Park. Volunteers will help out with a variety of tasks in a stunning location- including tree planting, seed collection and removal of weeds. Punakaiki is home to the world-famous Pancake Rocks, and provides a wonderful opportunity to explore this unique coastal landscape.

Join us and help support tāiko to have a Wild Future.

Description and distribution

The tāiko is endemic to New Zealand but being a sea bird it roams far and wide.   During most of the year, tāiko fly as far as Australia to the west, and Peru and Chile to the East.  In the winter they return to breed in the coastal foothills of the Paparoa range near Punakaiki, an 8km stretch of coastal forest.  During this time they can be found feeding from Kaikoura to the Tasman, crashing through the trees on their nightly return to their burrows. Annually there are approximately 4000 breeding pairs with adults living to 25 years of age, and breeding from 6 or 7 years.


The Westland petrel is a large (50cm), all-dark petrel. It has a chunky look to it, being large-bodied and with a stout bill, which is pale yellow with a dark tip. The plumage is entirely dark brownish-black with black legs and feet. Unusually, Westland petrels produce a quacking, humming, and braying sound on the breeding colony, with a rather nasal sound.

Help save the Tāiko

You can be a part of this important recovery effort by volunteering to help the Tāiko at our project site in Punakaki or donating to our Wild Futures program to ensure that these birds have a Wild Future.

We make it easy for people to make a difference and help secure tāiko in the wild.


Would you like to give the tāiko a Wild Future? You can do so by donating through our secure online system.


By volunteering on our field project, you can make a practical contribution and help give the tāiko a Wild Future.

Further information

View the Westland petrel/ tāiko on the Department of Conservation website (add link to DOC page below)