Best time to travel to New Zealand

Bar-Tailed Godwits

Could you cross 10,000 km without food and rest? Seems unreal, but not for bar-tailed godwits

Bar-Tailed Godwits
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© Vicki Milway

Known as kuaka, barwit, and bar-tailed godwit, these birds have two major habitats—breeging residence on the south-western coast of Alaska and feeding on the grounds New Zealand, where they stay for the rest of the year.

Things to do in New Zealand : Bar-Tailed Godwits

Though until recently it was assumed they stick to the shoreline during their migration, it appears to be quite the opposite. They go straight across the ocean, 10,000 km non-stop without food, or rest. Yeah, that's amazing. Even if they wanted to take a break and have a bug or worm snack, they simply can't, as there is nothing but water below, and they are not adjusted to feeding in the middle of the ocean. The only possible resting point for these hardy birds could be around the Yellow Sea between China and North Korea.

Things to do in New Zealand : Bar-Tailed Godwits

The best area to observe abundant flocks of bar-tailed godwits is Firth of Thames Bay in the northern tip of the Northern Island of New Zealand. The particularly good spot is the village of Miranda where the flocks of tens of thousands bar-tailed godwits gather before departure for Alaskan wetlands. The birds arrive from their breeding location to New Zealand in early September and stay in the area for almost half a year. The grand departing congregation happens annually in March. So don't miss it.

Things to do in New Zealand : Bar-Tailed Godwits
Things to do in New Zealand : Bar-Tailed Godwits

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