New Zealand Fairy Tern / Tara-iti

With a population of less than 40 birds including just 10-12 breeding pairs the New Zealand fairy tern is New Zealand's rarest endemic breeding bird.

Protection of the birds began in 1983 when the then Wildlife service could account for only three or four pairs. Management has continued under DOC and intensified since 1991 lowering their risk of extinction but not eliminating it.

Facts about the New Zealand Fairy Tern

  • The New Zealand Fairy Tern is the smallest tern that breeds in NZ with adults measuring around 250mm in length and weighing a mere 70 grams
  • The average lifespan of a NZ Fairy Tern is less than 10 years, however there are a few approaching their 16th year.
  • Their nests are scrapes in shell-covered sand, usually above the Spring high tide mark, on only four North Auckland beaches.

Threats to the Fairy Terns' survival

  • Predation — predators such as rats, dogs, cats, hedgehogs and mustlelids prey upon eggs, chicks and adult birds.
  • Environmental events such as high tides, storms, and strong winds destroy nests or chicks and can cause the adults to desert their nests.
  • Disturbance from peoples' activities on beaches.

About New Zealand Fairy Tern Trust

  • Formed in June 2008 to help the New Zealand Fairy Tern survive and prosper in their habitats of NZ, for the benefit of present & future generations of New Zealanders.
  • The Trust has key relationships with DOC, Ornithological Society (OSNZ) and Mangawhai Harbour Restoration Society.

Join Us

The Possibility of this bird becoming extinct in the next 50 years is high without your help.

Become a member
Membership entitles you to

  • Receive regular Trust bulletins.
  • Participation in advocacy for the terns
  • The opportunity to join one of the volunteer groups, working closely with DOC during the breeding season.
  • For further Trust info -

Download our membership form (49kb PDF)

For further N.Z.F.T reading - N.Z.F.T (Sterna nereis davisae) Recovery Plan, 2005-15. Katrina Hansen - Threatened Species Recovery Plan 57.
Download this PDF from (260kb PDF)