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Birds of Lake Mapourika, Franz Josef Glacier: Tui

Birds of Lake Mapourika, Franz Josef Glacier: Tui

by | Nov 5, 2021

Discovering Tui on the West Coast of New Zealand: Franz Josef Glacier

Nestled amidst the lush rainforests of the West Coast New Zealand, the Franz Josef Glacier area is a haven for Tui enthusiasts. One of the most enchanting residents of this region is the Tui (Prosthemadera novaseelandiae). This bird, endemic to New Zealand, is not just a visual marvel but also a melodious treat for those fortunate enough to hear its call.

The Tui is a prominent member of the honey eater family and is one of its largest representatives. The bird’s name, Tui, originates from the Maori language and is used as its formal common name. Early European settlers once referred to it as the “parson bird” due to its distinctive white throat tufts resembling a parson’s collar. However, this name has fallen out of use, and today, it is celebrated simply as the Tui.

At first glance, the Tui may appear to be entirely black. However, when seen under the right light, the bird reveals a stunning array of iridescent colors, including metallic blue, bronze, and green. These vibrant hues, along with its unique curled white throat tufts, make the Tui a striking sight in the forests of the West Coast New Zealand.

Tui Bird Locations:

The Tui is widespread across New Zealand, except for the drier areas east of the Southern Alps. In the Franz Josef Glacier region, the Tui thrives in native forests and sometimes even in exotic forests. They are also frequent visitors to rural and suburban gardens where flowering plants such as kowhai and gums are abundant. Despite the challenges posed by habitat destruction and predation by introduced mammals like possums, stoats, and rats, the Tui population in the West Coast New Zealand remains secure, with numbers increasing in some areas.

Observing a Tui in the wild, especially in the Franz Josef Glacier area, is a unique experience. These birds can often be seen alone or in small groups, but where there is an ample food source, they may appear in larger numbers. The Tui’s diet primarily consists of nectar, which they gather from a variety of native flowers such as puriri, kowhai, fuchsia, rewarewa, flax, rata, and gums. They also consume fruit, insects, seeds, and pollen.

One of the most captivating aspects of the Tui is its vocal ability. The bird possesses two voice boxes, allowing it to produce an incredible range of sounds, from bell-like notes to clicks, cackles, coughs, and wheezes. The Tui’s song is a hallmark of the West Coast New Zealand’s avian soundscape, and its ability to mimic human speech only adds to its allure.

For those exploring the West Coast New Zealand, you can’t miss discovering a Tui bird in the wild!

Where can you spot a Tui in Franz Josef Glacier?

One of the best times of year to spot the tui is mid summer when the flax bushes are flowering.  Our Lake Mapourika tours explore the forest from below on our 3 hour Kayak Classic Tour This allows us to navigate through the flax bushes – spotting Tui and listening to their beautiful song as we paddle.

Kayaks from above on Lake Mapourika

Or you can spot Tui from our Kayak & Walk or Cruise & Walk tours where we stop for a cup of tea and a view on Lake Mapourika amongst the flax.

Your very likely to hear Tui, maybe even spot one while walking on any of the Department of Conservation tracks in the local area.  For more information on the Tui bird you can read more here from Department of Conservation website.

There’s so many options to spot birds!  Come and join us for a tour…