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Great Barrier Island

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Great Barrier Island
Photograph from: Great Barrier Island, Don Armitage,
Canturbury University Press, 2001.

Many of the predatory animals introduced into New Zealand have never become established on Great Barrier so that birds which are now rare or absent on the mainland are still present on the island, such as black petrel, brown teal and Kaka.

The seas and the islands inside Poor Knights and Great Barrier have one of the world's highest diversities of petrels and shearwaters, with 13 breeding species. At least five of these still breed on Great Barrier and surrounding islets, and most of them may be seen at sea around the island. During winter, some of the local birds migrate to the northern and eastern Pacific and are replaced by migrants from southern waters, such as wandering albatross, Salvin's, black-browed and yellow-nosed mollymawks, giant petrel and cape pigeon. Black petrel breed on the island, as does Cook's petrel. grey-faced petrel, fluttering shearwaters and diving petrels breed on some of the smaller islets. Blue penguin and gannets are common. Shore birds include the wrybill and New Zealand and banded dotterels, as well as the more common birds.

Great Barrier is well known as the major remaining home of the endangered brown teal. Other wetland species include grey and paradise duck, banded rail, spotless crake, fern bird and bittern. Indeed Great Barrier may have the largest population of banded rail in New Zealand.

Great Barrier Island, the largest island off the coast of the North Island, was named by Captain James Cook for the barrier it forms between the Hauraki Gulf and the open sea. The island is located at the tip of the Coromandel Peninsular in the sea known traditionally as Te Moana nui o Toi, the great sea of Toi.

(page last updated  16 July, 2011)