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ZEALANDIA Ecosanctuary
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Kākāriki Spotting Guide

By ZEALANDIA Ranger Ellen Irwin

Kākāriki were introduced to ZEALANDIA in 2011, and since then have been thriving in the sanctuary. Residents of local Wellington suburbs, mainly Karori, now enjoy these birds in their backyards semi-regularly. 

ZEALANDIA Conservation Ranger Ellen Irwin shares her tips for spotting these, often elusive, parakeets in this blog post.


What to look for: a medium-sized bright green parakeet with a red forehead. They also have patches of red behind the eyes, and some blue on the edges of their wings.

They are often confused with the eastern rosella (introduced from Australia). However, rosellas are rainbow-coloured: they have a bright red head with the colour extending onto the chest like a bib, a yellow belly, a yellow/green back and some blue on their wings and tail. Kākāriki aren’t quite as multi-coloured. With kākāriki, the red is on their forehead rather than covering their entire head, and their bodies are almost entirely green.




Listen for their chattering call (I always think it sounds a bit like Alvin and the Chipmunks laughing) from high up in the trees or as they fly over.

Department of Conservation kākāriki song recording:

Listen for the soft sounds of cracking seeds or fruit dropping to the floor as they feed. Though these sounds can indicate other birds as well, kākāriki are often very quiet. So if you only hear dropping fruit/seeds but no wing beats or moving around in the trees it could be a kākāriki. They will also often feed in flocks, so if you spot one there are likely to be at least a couple more around!




If you think there is one around, be patient and wait quietly under the tree, looking for any movement (including moving branches) that could indicate a bird is there. They can blend in well, so it might take a few minutes before you spot them.

Kākāriki also feed on the ground, so check around the base of trees to see if there are any birds picking at dropped seeds/fruit!



Where to find kākāriki

Kākāriki can be found all over Zealandia and Wellington’s reserves and forested areas but can be difficult to spot if you’re not paying attention, so keep your eyes and ears peeled for them!


In Zealandia

At the Jim and Eve Lynch feeder just below the Top Dam

From the Top Dam on a sunny day, you can see them swooping over the treetops

Along the Round the Lake Track


Outside the sanctuary

Anywhere there’s a big fruiting tōtara tree!

Otari-Wilton’s Bush

Wright’s Hill Reserve


ZEALANDIA is actively working to help kākāriki within our fence survive within the sanctuary and beyond. We want all Wellingtonians to be able to see these wonderful birds regularly, in their own gardens. 

To look after kākāriki, and our other threatened species, ZEALANDIA rangers and volunteers spend a large amount of time each year building nest boxes to assist breeding, checking nests when they are laid and banding nestlings so we can follow their journey.

We also spend a lot of time making sure our fence continues to keep the birds safe from introduced predators.

This is only possible with your help. Your donation at this time would enable us to protect and nurture the birds currently living in the sanctuary, as well as the next generations of Wellington’s wildlife to come.



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