The Birds In Our Backyard

The gardens and trees of Creel Lodge provide safe havens and food for a variety of birds. Beyond our back gate the Tongariro River is home to a dozen different water birds. Its riverside walks host numerous songsters to delight visitors.

For those going further afield Creel offers an ideal base to explore the natural world of Turangi and Tongariro in general and its bird life in particular. Many of New Zealand's special native birds can be found in nearby streams, bushland and tussock, or within Great Lake Taupo itself.

Sand Pool at sunset, Tongariro River. Image courtesy Julian Cribb
Sand Pool at sunset, Tongariro River. Image courtesy Julian Cribb

At Creel some of our birds are resident. Others change with the seasons. When our apples ripen Bellbirds arrive to delight visitors with their antics and song as they feast greedily on the bounty. This past summer the Lodge grounds hosted a nervous pair of California Quail and their growing family. The New Year saw a couple of rare Blue Ducks raise their brood a ten minute walk up the river at Major Jones' Pool.

We are regularly asked by our guests to identify our birds. We hope that the following pictures and notes help visitors better appreciate our feathered residents.

Three points to note:

  1. When identifying birds it is important to realise that, like people, not all birds of one kind are alike. Birds differ not only by age, gender, and time of year, but also between individuals. Some of the latter differences can be quite marked.
  2. These notes are concerned with the main type of birds found in the area around the central volcanoes and extending north through Turangi and Tokaanu to a line running east-west more or less across the middle of Lake Taupo.
    Information on the birds further afield, and where to see them, such as in Pureora Forest Park, can be found in Kathy Ombler's excellent book Where to Watch Birds in New Zealand (New Holland, 2007).
  3. Three distinct categories of birds now call New Zealand home:
    1. birds found only in New Zealand such as the Blue Duck, Tui and Dabchick.
    2. birds that introduced themselves and have set up home here. Most, if not all of these came from Australia. Recent arrivals include the Welcome Swallow and Spur-winged Plover. The Silvereye arrived in the early 19th century while the Pukeko reached here several hundred years ago.
    3. birds introduced by humans. Most of these come from Europe but a couple have come from Australia, one from North America and another from Asia. Examples are the House Sparrow, Canada Goose, Australian Magpie and Myna.

Birders refer to group 'a' birds as endemic. The term native is used for both endemic birds and self-introduced birds that breed successfully in New Zealand.

Those wanting more detail can refer to Hugh Robinson & Barrie Heather's The Hand Guide to the Birds of New Zealand (Revised edition, Penguin Books, 2005). It is authoritative, has first-rate illustrations, and is most convenient to carry in car or pack.

Paradise Shelducklings
Paradise Shelducklings

Our birds have been arbitrarily grouped in the following pages to bring together similar looking birds and/or those living in similar environments. The categories are:

White-faced Herons in flight
White-faced Herons in flight.


Creel Lodge wishes to thank Dr Kerry Rodgers for providing the text and stunning photographs for this article. Without him "The Birds In Our Backyard" would never have come to fruition.
Jill, Richard ,Peter 2012

© K.A. Rodgers 2012

Creel Lodge, 183 Taupahi Road , Turangi/Tongariro, New Zealand
Phone/Fax +64 - 7 - 386 - 8081. NZ free call number 0800 - 273 - 355